The purpose of this study is to examine the role of Nigeria in the formation of regional organization (ECOWAS) considering the need for West Africa to have a regional organization with common goals and the formative years of ECOWAS. This research also examine the Nigeria’s interest in ECOWAS and the successes/challenges of the regional organization. Data was obtained from the secondary sources like Journals, textbooks, internet and all other secondary sources. More data were also gathered through interviews. The data obtained was analyzed using thematic format and a descriptive essay and the result revealed that Nigeria played a major role in the formation of ECOWAS because their special interest is in regional and borderless organization uniting the West African countries to improve trade and transportation with an introduction of common currency. Nigeria has played a leading role in funding the organization. However, the organization has not been able to achieve many of the goals in the mission system due to several challenges and the non supportive nature of some member countries. This study concludes that Nigeria should continue playing the big brother role to ensure the success of the regional organization. It however recommends that other west African countries should come together in cooperation to ensure the success of the organization.






Table of content



1.1    Background of study

1.2    Statement of the problem

1.3    Importance of study

1.4    Objectives of the study

1.5    Research questions

1.6    Significance of study

1.7    Scope

1.8    Limitations of study

1.9    Definition of terms


2.1    Literature Review

2.2    Conceptual Framework

2.2.1    Objectives of ECOWAS

2.2.2    Nigeria and Development in ECOWAS


3.1    Nigerian Foreign policy

3.1.1    The nature of the Nigerian policy

3.1.2    Objectives of the Nigerian policy

3.1.3    The principles of the Nigerian policy

3.2    The role of Nigeria in the formation of ECOWAS.

3.3    Contributions of ECOWAS to the West African Development.


4.1    Nigeria and West Africa Security

4.1.1    Collective Security

4.2    The main challenges of ECOWAS


Summary, Conclusion and recommendation.



    One of the most important developments in the field of International Relations since World War II has been the proliferation of regional organizations. A region is broadly defined as a group of countries linked together by historical, geographical, cultural economic and other ties. It could also be thought in terms of eco geographical region defined as "a unit made of living and non-living components that interact to form a life-support system". Regional organizations, systems or doctrines are indications of the existing reality global interdependence. An indispensable common feature of any regional organization is the exercise of sovereignty in setting up of a co-operative association. In West Africa, regional association has come to be expressed in the formation of ECOWAS in May, 1975. The success of ECOWAS has always hinged on the degree of the determination and commitment of the stronger members. Nigeria is manifestly the strongest member (Adepoju, 2005). However, this study seeks to find out the Nigeria’s role in the formation of a ECOWAS (a regional organization formed in West Africa).

    It is a fact of history that Nigeria played a prominent role in the formation of the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS). Balewa government had talked of formation of an Economic community of West Africa in 1964. Nigeria actively involved itself in the series of conferences sponsored by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) between 1966 and 1968 for economic cooperation in Africa. Nigeria and Guinea were chosen by the Monrovia summit of 1968 for economic co-operation in Africa. Nigeria and Guinea were chosen by the Monrovia summit of 1968 to study on priority areas for cooperation between the members. There report which was submitted in 1969, was not considered partly because of the weak leadership of Pan West Africa of that time. Soon after the civil war, Nigeria rekindled the enthusiasm for a West African Economic Community. First, Gowon administration rent letters to the other West African governments seeking for their co-operation to form the Economic Community and to start with a consideration of Nigeria-Guinea Report of 1969. With little result even with Gowon's personal diplomatic follow-up, Nigeria and Togo settled for a modest and realistic approach in a treaty in 1972 establishing what president Eyadema called "Embryo of West African Economic Community". Second, Nigerian government began chocking out areas of cooperative development while not abandoning an earlier interest in the abolition of tariff barriers between states. Third a ministerial level .meeting was to convene in Lome in November 1973 to discuss these areas of co-operation but it was aborted following president Pompidou of France’s meeting with Francophone West African leaders. Nigeria's fourth strategy was increased bilateral- trade pacts with many West African States. To these, a fifth may be added. Nigeria employed unofficial tactics in the formation of an Economic Community when Gowon government, encouraged the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The federation's meeting in Accra in October, 1972 passed a resolution on the creation of Economic Community (Agu, 2003).

    Although the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not officially established until 1975, there were several events which preceded the signing and led to what is now known as ECOWAS.  Former Liberian President William Tubman is credited with developing the idea of creating a West African economic community.  His idea spurred the signing of an agreement between Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in February 1965; however, the agreement was more of a formality than an actual call to action.

General Gowon of Nigeria and General Eyadema of Togo reintroduced the idea in April 1972.  These generals drafted proposals for a new community and then spent July and August of 1973 traveling to 12 countries in West Africa to assess interest and to elicit support.  The treaty draft was further examined at a meeting of potential member states in Lomé, Togo, during December 1973; at a meeting of experts and jurists in Accra, Ghana, during January 1974; and at a meeting of ministers in Monrovia, Liberia, during January 1975.

However, on May 28, 1975, 15 West African countries met in Lagos, Nigeria, to sign the ECOWAS Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Lagos.  These fifteen countries were Benin, Burkina Faso (then known as Upper Volta), Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.  The ECOWAS Treaty, which created the Economic Community of West African States, was intended to promote cooperation and integration within West Africa and to eventually establish an economic and monetary union. Two years later, in 1977, Cape Verde became the sixteenth member of ECOWAS. However, this research on the Nigeria’s role on the formation of ECOWAS will critically examine the part played by Nigerian government in founding the organization, the successes and the challenges of the organization.


To achieve the goal of improving economic and political cooperation among the west Africa countries, a treaty was signed in 1975 by 16 West African Country for the formation of a regional organization (ECOWAS). However, this study is critically beaming a search light to the role of Nigeria in the establishment of the organization.

For the purpose of this study, it is important to recalled that on July 24, 1993, the 16 members of ECOWAS met and signed a revised treaty.  In accordance with the text of the revised treaty, all community conventions, protocols, decisions, and resolutions made in the 1975 treaty were to remain valid and enforced, except for those that were inconsistent with the revised treaty.  The revisions that were presented in the 1993 version of the treaty were made with the two basic goals of accelerating the integration of economic policy and improving political cooperation. However, to accelerate economic integration, the revised treaty outlined the necessary steps for the establishment of a common market and a shared currency.  Some of the steps of this outline, as stated in the revised treaty, call for the study and research of monetary and financial development, the promotion of activities ensuring convertibility of currencies, and the establishment of a common currency zone. Considering all the above and the role of Nigeria in the formation of ECOWAS, it is important to examine the successes and challenges created as a result of the formation of ECOWAS.


    This study on the Nigeria’s role in the formation of regional organization, a case study of ECOWAS is of great importance as it will educate the general public as to the contributions of Nigeria to the establishment of ECOWAS and there has been many arguments by researchers as to the contribution of Nigeria towards the integration of the west African states that make up ECOWAS. Furthermore, this study will also identify the successes and the challenges of the organization.


The aims and objectives of this study include:

1.    To examine the need by West Africa countries for a regional organization and the formative years of ECOWAS.

2.    To examine the role of Nigeria in the formation of ECOWAS.

3.    To examine the successes in the realization of the ECOWAS main objectives.

4.    To examine Nigeria’s interest in ECOWAS.

5.    To find out the main challenges of ECOWAS


1.    Why is there need by West Africa countries to form a regional organization (ECOWAS)?

2.    What is the role of Nigeria in the formation of ECOWAS?

3.    What are the successes in the realization of the ECOWAS main objectives?

4.    What is Nigeria’s interest in ECOWAS?

5.    What are the main challenges of ECOWAS?


    ECOWAS is the brain child of Nigeria and Togo. Nigeria has remained the driving force of the regional organization aimed as regional self-reliance, self-preservation and all round security. This research is significant as it will reveal the level of commitment of Nigeria to the development of the west Africa sub-region, Africa and the world as a whole by identifying the contribution of Nigeria to ECOWAS formation.

The relevance of this study is to ascertain the role of Nigeria in the formation of the regional organization (ECOWAS) which will provide first hand information for further research in the area of the Nigeria’s role in the formation of ECOWAS.


    The scope of this study on the Nigeria’s role in the formation of a regional organization: a case study of ECOWAS will cover the historic background and the formative years of ECOWAS and contribution of Nigeria to formation and sustainability of the organization. The successes and the challenges of the organization will also be enumerated.


1.    Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

2.    Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Organization- an organized group of people with a particular purpose, such as a business or government department.

Formation- the action of creating or process of being formed

Economy- the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money

Security- the state of being free from danger or threat.

Integration- the act of combining two or more things together to produce a unique and better one

Treaty- a formally concluded and ratified agreement between states.


Adepoju A, “Creating a Borderless West Africa; Constraints and Prospects for Intra-Regional Migration”, UNESCO Journal, Migration Without Borders Series, 2005.

Agu E. C., Economic Integration in Africa: Implications for Intra-African Relations Among ECOWAS Members, (unpublished M.Sc Thesis University of Jos), 2003.

Asante, S.K.B. 1999. African Development: Adebayo Adedeji's Alternative Strategies (London: Han Zell Publishers).

ECOWAS Community Treaty, 1975

Ewing Graeger, 1967 "Environmental Security" The Journal of Peace Studies, Vo1.33, No. 1.

Merriam, S. B. (1988). Case Study Research in Education: A Qualitative Approach. San Francisco, California. Jossey-Bass, CA, pp 1-275

Oliver, P. (2004). Writing Your Thesis. London, CA: Sage publications, pp 106-118

Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-Researchers, 2nd ed, Blackwell publications

Stake, R. E. (2000). “Case Studies”, in Denzin, N.K. &&Lincoln, Y. S, Handbook of Qualitative Research. London, Sage, 2nd ed, pp 335-354

Stubblefield, 2004.  “Operationalizing the ECOWAS Protocol on Free States: Issues of Convergence and Prospects for Sub-regional Integration,

Travers, M. (2001), Qualitative Research through case Studies: Introducing Qualitative Methods, 1st ed, London, Sage, CA,

Yin, R. K. (1989), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Revised edition, London, Sage, Newburg park, CA.



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