Leadership in National Security Policymaking:
: Nigeria’s Grand Strategy and Survival in The West African Sub-Region

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Nigeria’s geostrategic role in promoting peace and security in the West African subregion through regional intervention has been examined overtime, using two broad analytical lenses. These include a regional hegemonic approach and a political economy approach. Both traditional approaches however fall short of interrogating where influence exists and how it is being exchanged towards the attainment of mutually linked goals not least between leaders of the state and the society that they serve. By adopting process-based leadership as a analytical lens, this research contributes to the literature by filling this gap. The research sets out to answer the question: do Nigeria’s interpretation of, and response to the threats of civil wars in West Africa reflect the mutually linked security concerns of its political leaders and society? This historically informed qualitative research engages with the subject of state society relations during foreign interventions by examining how Nigerian regimes prioritised regime survival, under the pretext of state survival, during the Nigerian-led ECOWAS interventions in Liberia’s civil wars, and by implicit comparison, the Sierra Leonean civil war. Beyond this, the research draws attention to the use of the concept of grand strategy beyond a West-centric construct, by demonstrating how the adoption of a liberal-internationalist grand strategy by Nigeria, a non-Western state, in the period of study, contributed towards the goal of the Nigerian regimes’ political survival, rather than state survival. The research utilises process tracing as a research technique in its reconstruction and reinterpretation of the events at the time, while drawing on in-depth field interviews, which are augmented by content analysis derived from secondary sources including archival data. Empirical findings from the research show that despite different threats confronting the Nigerian regimes during the first Liberian civil war and the second Liberian civil war, being military and democratic regimes respectively, the pursuit of the regimes’ political survival remained the same. This was achieved to a large extent by building multilateral alliances through horizontal mutuality and less so towards society, as reflected in the fragile nature of vertical mutuality between the Nigerian state and the Nigerian society.
Date of Award1 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorFunmi Olonisakin (Supervisor) & Abiodun Alao (Supervisor)

Cite this