Original Research

Asymmetric relations and enforcement of democracy in West Africa: The case of Nigeria and The Gambia

Victor Ojakorotu, Bamidele Olajide
New Contree | Vol 86 | a25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/nc.v86i0.25 | © 2023 Victor Ojakorotu, Bamidele Olajide | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2023 | Published: 30 July 2021

About the author(s)

Victor Ojakorotu, North-West University, South Africa
Bamidele Olajide, North-West University, South Africa

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Nigeria and The Gambia have been involved in asymmetrical relations since 1965 given the disparity in the material capabilities between them. This asymmetry came to the fore in the role played by Nigeria in resolving the 2016 political impasse in The Gambia when former President Yahya Jammeh refused to accept the results of the elections and quit power, having lost to the opposition. Adopting Krystof Kozák’s four behavioural tendencies of asymmetrically stronger states in the theory of asymmetry in international relations, this article notes that Nigeria changed its behaviour towards The Gambia from asymmetric benevolence (B2) to military threat (B4) to oust Jammeh from power. It, however, adds that beyond deploying its asymmetric advantage in resolving the Gambian impasse, Nigeria cannot be of serious assistance to The Gambia in building democratic structures and institutions due to its democratic challenges on B2 terms. The article concludes that Nigeria’s action in the Gambian crisis was an end in itself, that is, it was aimed at forestalling threats to regional stability. Nigeria lacks moral and technical wherewithal to deploy its B2 behaviour towards the development of democratic institutions in The Gambia.


Asymmetric relations; Enforcement of democracy; Nigeria; The Gambia; Foreign policy; West Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Nigeria’s Democracy Promotion in Africa: Hard, Soft or Smart Power Stratagem?
Oluwaseun Tella
Journal of Asian and African Studies  vol: 57  issue: 6  first page: 1277  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1177/00219096221076103