Relations with Major Powers
During the Gulf crisis that began with Iraq's invasion
Kuwait in the summer of 1990 and that marked the end of
War and the beginning of a coalition, Nigeria kept a low
It did not send troops to engage in the Persian Gulf war
continued to be an active supporter of UN policy. Buying
of Nigeria's crude oil, the United States was Nigeria's
important trading partner. Until the civil war, Nigeria
no significant relationship with the Soviet Union and
Europe. Since then, ties with the Soviet Union had
although they remained minimal in comparison with ties to
West. Nigeria's other major trading partners were Japan
EEC, from which it continued to obtain loans and aid.
Although Nigeria has always leaned toward the West, the
closeness of the relationship has varied. Nigeria's
were originally strongest with Britain, its former
ruler. The special relationship, which lasted until the
coup, led Nigeria to side with Britain on most issues.
coup and the civil war, the new Nigerian leaders were less
favorable toward Britain, especially after Britain took a
position of neutrality in the civil war, refused to sell
the federation and ignored the blockade against Biafra.
leaders also were rankled by Britain's support of
governments in southern Africa. Several Nigerian groups
the new government to weaken ties with Britain as the only
true independence. At times, more verbal and symbolic
done to Nigerian-British relations for Nigerian popular
consumption than was true in reality.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States and the
Union were interested in Nigeria because of its size,
economic and military potential, and, especially for the
States, its oil. From 1966 to 1977, Nigeria was very cool
the United States. The two countries took opposing
southern African liberation. Nigerians were angered by
proBiafran propaganda in the United States and by America's
to sell arms to the federation during the civil war.
States involvement was even suspected by Nigeria in the
assassination of Murtala Muhammad. In 1977 Jimmy Carter
president, and Nigerian relations with the United States
changed. The United States recognized Nigeria as a
force in Africa and was willing to consult with Nigeria on
African issues. The two governments appeared to have
interests in southern Africa. The special relationship had
basis, however, depending mostly upon continuing agreement
cooperation over southern African issues. Once Ronald
replaced Carter as president (1981-88), the countries
divergent interests in southern Africa.
Just as the balance of trade was not expected to shift
dramatically with the opening of Eastern Europe so, too,
Nigeria's political position was not expected to change
In a time of shifting world coalitions, a position of
nonalignment with a leaning toward the West provided more
for Nigeria than ever. Events in southern Africa,
Namibia's independence and the opening of debate for
apartheid in South Africa, removed the largest obstacles
closer relations with the United States without excluding
Soviet Union or other leading powers.
Data as of June 1991