A Review By Professor Armstrong Matiu Adejo, Department Of History, Benue State University, Makurdi
In the same chapter the author holds an extensive discussion on France’s relationship with Analophone Africa. He discusses Nigeria- France relations, hitting on the obvious point of differences in January 1961 as a result of French atomic test in the Sahara. The author noted that Nigeria, just fresh out of colonial grip, wanted to assert her sovereignty based on local prevailing sentiments. What followed coloured Nigeria – France relationship extensively, including the unacceptable role France played over the civil war.
This chapter concludes by noting the instrument of aid and economic issues employed by France in casting her African foreign policy. The author summed up that French dominance and Francophone’s dependency were predicted on two major policy strands; that is the France zone which allowed international business transaction to be carried out through French, Franc and secondly the cultural relationship which has been very penetrating in Africa.
Chapter five zeros largely of what looks like the over all title of the book: that is, change and continuity in France foreign policy in Africa. Here the author specifically examines the determinant factors for change in French policy. Out of several issues five key factors could be drawn out. These are: the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War which necessitated French policy option; second is, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and re-unification of Germany in which France knew it had to adjust to new realities of the regional structure in Europe; that is, the domestic issue in the change of administration after Francois Mitterand’s fourteen years presidency gave way to Jacques Chivac who asserted he would run a policy of change and continuity. Chivac’s policy, it is noted, whatever the expectations, made it difficult for Francophone relations to return to the era of paternalism crafted by the Gaullist regime. The fourth factor has to do with the shift from some sources of strategic raw materials, like uranium, in Africa to deliveries for elsewhere in US, Canada and Australia as well as reasonable local availability; the fifth being the awful development in Rwanda which put France on the spot of international criticism.
The author summarized that the essential element of the new policy is preference for partnership. In the face of dwindling capacity for assistance to her former colonies, France introduced the pre-conduction of ‘good governance’ as a requirement for attention. France had to vigorously warm up relationship with non-Francophone countries like Nigeria. The shift in policy could actually practically be seen in France’s disposition towards Algeria and Cote d’ Ivoire. She watched, unlike previously, these two states without concrete action until it because too grave for aloofness In other situations, like Liberia under Charles Taylor and Nigeria under general Abacha, France acted at various with other western nations.
Chapter six reviews France’s new level of socio-cultural and economic relations with Anglophone Africa. The author largely provides a re-emphasis of the issues raised in the previous chapters. The platform for the new level of relationship rests on spreading French language and the establishment of the French Cultural Centre (Alliance Francais). On the whole, cultural activism at international level has been a long standing phenomenon in France’s foreign policy. At the economic level she has done tremendously well; for instance by 2007 over 120 French companies were actively involved in Nigeria’s economy whose combined investment reached a total of $4 billion.
Chapter seven, the concluding segment, provides the usual outline associated with the conclusion of a doctoral thesis: findings, contribution and recommendations.
Dr. Akwaya no doubt has made tremendous contribution to knowledge through the explanation of the complex relations between a highly developed economy and democracy and developing states of Africa. It is recommendations are no doubt instructive, although they are no cutting edge submissions. The author has been able to intelligently employ theoretical and conceptual frameworks to re-validate postulations in the pattern and characteristics of the foreign policy of a hegemonic state.
Dr. Akwaya has taken a ‘forest view’ approach of the French foreign policy in Africa which affords the reader a panoramic assessment. The weakness of this is quite obvious – that it provides a run-away commentary on some key national and international issues devoid of the comprehensiveness in specific cases. For the former colonial power whose policies have been largely dictated by its continental realities such as the revolution, the Napoleonic exploits, the Franco-Prussian war, the First and Second World Wars, it will not be difficult to understand the trend of change and continuity of the nation’s policy framework. Along this construction, Dr, Akwaya has done justice to the treatment of the subject matter.
We cannot, however, draw curtain over this brief review without stating one vital relevance of this work. It has to do with the lesson Nigeria and other developing states have to learn form the French determination to succeed. France in her imperial disposition understood history and took the realities of her position seriously by her actions in ‘well defined, well articulated national interest with an uncompromising objective; that of the ‘greatness’ of France and she did so commottedly that despite cherished independence, the Francophone states preferred to rely on the safeguards offered by the possibility of having French friendship and agreement.
For Nigeria, we cannot say same of how we have faired since 1960. It is obvious that we have not been able to clearly define our national interest and values, and where there have been theoretical attempt the political will to convey it has been lacking. At a point, because we were not even certain of what we wanted in the global setting, our leaders reduced international relations and diplomacy to tourism, dwelling on the number of visits made to other countries without commensurate returns. It must be stated that the why and how a nation manages the clashes in conflicting foreign policy commitments in a competitive world is dependent on its national role conception.