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1.1 Background of the Study

Regional organizations are a subcategory of international organization; they can be financial and nonfinancial institutions. They consist of those supranational institutions whose members are governments or monetary authorities of economies that are located in a specific region of the world. Regional organizations, for instance, Currency Union Central Banks (CUCB), are created for many purposes include supporting, guiding, and even governing aspects of the economic relationships or integration processes among the regions‘ economies. As with other international organizations, regional organizations such as Economic Community Of West Africa States (ECOWAS) are established by political agreement among organization members that has the status of international treaties, and are accorded appropriate privileges and immunities and are not subject to the laws and regulations of the economies in which they are located.

In practice also, the UN has begun to work with regional and intergovernmental organizations. Some of these organizations, like OSCE, AU, ECOWAS and NATO, have made conflict prevention part of their core mandates and have assumed active roles in selected conflicts. NATO and the UN have been involved jointly in conflicts in the Balkans, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. ECOWAS and the UN have played a significant role in Liberia where ECOWAS created a military observer group (ECOMOG) in 1990. It has also deployed forces to Sierra Leone (1998), Guinea Bissau (1998), Côte d‘Ivoire (2002). The UN Operation in Liberia (UNOMIL), set up in 1993, became the first operation to be undertaken in cooperation with a peacekeeping operation established by another organisation, in this case ECOWAS. More recently, the AU has been involved in Chad, Côte d‘Ivoire and most importantly in Darfur. In this regard resolution 1706 which mandated innovative and substantial UN assistance to AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is a possible benchmark for the future (Abba, 2000).


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional organization of a group of fifteen West African countries in November 1975.It has its secretariat and headquarters in Abuja. Nigeria. The original objectives of the organization as contained in the ECOWAS treaty are among other things to promote co-operation and regional integration leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the standards of living of its people and to maintain economic stability. Established in 1975 originally as a regional organization to essentially promote the economic integration of the fifteen Member States, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been gradually transformed, under the pressure of political events, into an organization also responsible for finding solutions to armed conflicts and other political crisis which were undermining peace and security within the community space (Adebayo, 2007).

Basically, looking at the roles and relevance of Nigeria in regional organisation of ECOWAS was strategically set to achieve this objective, to a large extent hampered by political crisis in the region and rivalries between heads of states for the leadership of regional organizations, there was the need to gradually attach greater importance to peace, defense and security issues Aluko, 1981; Rhodes, 1995). The decade of the 1990‘s has been particularly decisive for ECOWAS evolution into an organization capable of intervening diplomatically and militarily in cases of serious threats to the security of a member state and within the community space in general ECOWAS consequently played a key role in the arduous resolution of protracted and devastating civil wars in Liberia (1990-1997 and 2003-2007) and Sierra Leone (1991-2002) which sometimes spilled over into guinea and threatened to cause unrest in the entire west Africa region. ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group drawn from the Nigerian federal army and other member states of the organization. This was also seen in the Malian crisis to prevent the spilling of the crisis into other parts of West Africa especially Mali‘s neighboring countries.

According to Olakounle, (2010) it was several years of ECOMOG‘s military presence under extremely difficult material and security conditions and at the instigation of the regional military power; Nigeria that Sierra Leone and Liberia received United Nations Peacekeeping operation. ECOMOG was indeed accused of behaving as a warring party to the fighting conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone or as an occupation force. However, its presence at the height of the fighting


and chaos in these two countries, when there was no peace to be maintained played a major role in the stabilization of the Mano River basin region. ECOWAS was led to intervene vigorously in the management of conflict in the 1990s before establishing the institutional and operational basis of a regional mechanism for peace and security supported by the texts of the organization.

This study is an analysis of Nigeria‘s roles, and strategic actions on ECOWAS as a regional organisation. Nigeria acts in her capacity as an individual state and as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria‘s roles towards ECOWAS can be traced as far back as 1960 and even before then. The motivation for this inquiry stems from a need to understand the dynamics of regional peacekeeping particularly in relation to West African peacekeeping missions. It is against this backdrop that this study critically examines the roles and contribution of Nigeria in the development of regional organisation with focus on Economic Community of West Africa States based on challenges and coping strategies resorted to as means of survival in the society.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria as a country has contributed in the development of regional organisation. The weaker states in the West African region had difficulty mobilising the resources required to deal decisively with the Liberian crisis, becoming overwhelmingly dependent upon one regional power to sustain the operation (Offiong and Idise, 2000). The ECOMOG operation occurred at a difficult time for the states in the region, when they themselves were involved in painful economic reforms and their own legitimacy, in most cases, was subject to internal criticism and pressures. The intervention was also complicated by linguistic and geopolitical rivalries and by cleavages within ECOWAS itself, and undermined by debilitating arguments about its legitimacy and organisation.

Coetzee, (2008) observed that these difficulties were partially due to the fact that ECOWAS and its member countries, like the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), had been notoriously slow to take issues of regional security seriously. Long standing mutual security protocols that should have allowed ECOWAS to anticipate crises were not implemented. Regionalism also proved as much a source of weakness as of strength in the operation: its advantages were genuine interest (as well as self-interest) in the issues and intimate knowledge


of the local political terrain (both necessary for sustained and meaningful engagement); its disadvantages were the danger of partisanship and the lack of neutrality and, in the ECOWAS case, the militarisation of existing regional conflicts and cleavages (Belmakhi, 2005). In other words, regional (or sub-regional) actors are liable to be both too close to the issues and too interested in the outcomes. International intervention was ultimately required to break the deadlock.

Despite the fact that many studies have been conducted in areas pertaining ECOWAS roles in regional development but little have been done on the contributory roles of Nigeria in developing the regional organisation as expected. However, an array of articles and research can be found on the influence of ECOWAS on regional security. Most of these discourses and researches (Adebayo 2007; Oche, 1999; Ate and Akinterinwa, 1992) usually focus on the roles of Nigeria to ECOWAS as a regional organization. Hence, little is still known and understood about the determinants of ECOWAS structure as a regional organisation and its development to West Africa and Africa at large. This research therefore seeks to focus on the roles and contribution of Nigeria in the development of regional organisations in Africa,with ECOWAS as a case study

1.3 Objectives of the study

These are the objectives of the study;

What are the roles Nigeria played in the formation of ECOWAS?

What are the challenges Nigeria faced in the development of ECOWAS?

What are the contributions of Nigeria in the development of ECOWAS and what are the ways it is using to solve the challenges being face?

1.4         Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the roles and contribution of Nigeria in the development of regional development with focus on Economic Community of West Africa States The specific objectives are to:

Assess the roles Nigeria played in the establishment of ECOWAS.


Examine the contributions of Nigeria to the development of ECOWAS since its formation.

Analyse the challenges faced by Nigeria in maintaining and fostering the development of ECOWAS.

1.5         Significance of Study

This study is significant in the following ways. The study will contribute to the existing literature on the roles and contributions of Nigeria‘s development of ECOWAS in West Africa, and help bring additional academic focus on economic cooperation of regional development. More importantly, the study hopes that subsequent discussions on the subject of inquiry, will yield focused attention by scholars of African politics, and stimulate further debate among social science scholars and other political observers alike, about, not only Nigeria‘s peacekeeping roles, but Nigeria‘s commitments and contributions to regional development of ECOWAS in the western region and indeed, in the continent of Africa.


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