Nigeria, South Africa and the US Connection: Myth and the Western-Proclaimed ‘Giant of Africa’
Severe strains in Nigeria’s relations with the United States occurred during the first year (1976) of the Mohammed-Obasanjo regime. The central issue was Angola. Nigeria’s perception of the Angolan conflict was fundamentally opposed to that of the United States. Hence, the action which Nigeria took to help effect a settlement ran counter to actions taken by the United States. Although open support for the MPLA would have been the most progressive move, Nigeria’s initial position was to encourage the three Angolan groups — the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA — to seek some form of mutual accommodation: to agree on a government of national unity and to work together for the benefit of their people. Nigeria was even prepared to support some delay in the transfer of power in order to achieve the policy goals of securing independence through a government of national unity in Angola. Foreign intervention in Angola completely changed the situation and necessitated an immediate review of Nigeria’s policy on Angola. Nigerian leaders believed that a truly independent Angola could neutralise the Caprivi Strip and deprive South Africa and the Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia of their military base there, which they used to frustrate the support of Zambia and Botswana for liberation fighters in the area. Because of its strategic and economic interests in South Africa, the United States perceived Angola more or less from the South African standpoint.
KeywordsSecurity Council National Unity African National Congress Economic Intelligence Unit Nigerian Government
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