The study examined the perception of Nigerian elites on the role of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in foreign policy formulation and implementation. It investigated how the nature and structure of the Nigerian State shaped the nation's foreign policy bureaucracy as represented by the MFA. The study employed primary and secondary data. Primary data were collected through unstructured interview. Respondents were purposively selected from the academia as well as from among the senior officers of the MFA, the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) totaling 25 altogether. The eligibility criteria included knowledge of and contribution to the subject matter, as well as expertise and active participation in Nigeria's foreign policy process. Secondary data were sourced from official documents, books, journals, newspapers, news magazines, and Internet-based materials. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis. From the result, 75% of respondents perceived the MFA as simply a rubber-stamp for the desires and preferences of the President and their kitchen cabinet. 65% of respondents held the view that the Federal Cabinet, National Assembly, think-tanks, and research-based institutions that should be decision units alongside the MFA, appeared to be for the most part, sidelined in foreign policy making. About 60% of respondents submitted that the political, socio-economic, religious, linguistic and ethnical configuration of the Nigerian state and its characteristic differences, impinged on foreign policy decisions and pursuits. The study concluded that the role of Nigeria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in many cases was undermined. It was seen to be more visible in foreign policy implementation than in decision-making; allowed only marginal roles in decision making or simply used as mere administrative machinery to implement the desires and preferences of the political head and their kitchen cabinet.
Foreign policy, elites, bureaucracy, decision-making, institutions, Nigeria