OGIRISI: a New Journal of African Studies

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The role of U.S. and her multinational private companies in the Nigeria-Biafra war: beyond the threshold of neutrality

Festus C. Onuegbu, Idara Aniefiok Hanson


This work is an attempt to show how the U.S covertly meddled into the Nigeria-Biafra War despite her much taunted ‘neutrality’ in the conflict. No doubt, the U.S did not grant any official arms sales to either Nigeria or the secessionist Biafra, and regarded the war as ‘internal conflict’ that should be resolved internally. Many a literature on the Nigeria-Biafra conflict had taken this to absolve U.S of any form of active political involvement in the thirty months war. However, a critical survey of policy actions and activities of the U.S State Department via its Embassy in Lagos and U.S multinational private companies in Nigeria during the war respectively, casts serious doubts on the propriety and correctness of the U.S neutrality in the conflict. Using the ‘linkage politics’ understanding of foreign policy as the most relevant conceptual framework of analysis, and hugely relying on secondary sources of information with available declassified document, the paper argues that the U.S was partisan, and indirectly supported Nigeria as against Biafra. Therefore, it belies, and refuses the contention that ‘U.S did not get politically involved and maintained neutrality throughout the conflict’.

Keywords: Neutrality, War, Internal conflict, Involvement, and Foreign policy

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