Hegemonic order and regional stability in Sub-Saharan Africa : a comparative study of Nigeria and South Africa.
Olusola, Ogunnubi Rasheed.
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Barely twenty years after the end of the Cold War, the international political system has experienced an unanticipated shift from a United States (US) led unipolar global order to a new order marked by its fresh wave of multiple competitors (Prys 2009:137). The global burden on the US had reciprocally inspired the appearance of a range of actors: regional (middle) powers such as Brazil, China, India and Russia; European Union (EU); South Africa and Nigeria. Consequently, an increasing level of expectation has been imposed on regional powers to provide the right leadership direction capable of promoting international stability and paving the way for development in these regions. In the light of the above, this thesis examines the implication of the hegemonic stability theory in understanding the power dynamics within Africa. In essence, the study specifically seeks to operationalize the concept of regional hegemony by drawing on insights from a comparative foreign policy study of African regional powers with emphasis on Nigeria and South Africa. Using largely qualitative and secondary data supplemented with primary data, the study examines the underlying assertions of a possible hegemonic influence of both countries and, thus, addresses the dearth of literature on regional power and leadership dynamics - particularly in Africa. Since the celebrated entry of South Africa into the African democratic arena, the resultant implication of this has been a change in the power, leadership and economic equations in Africa. From a theoretical projection of hegemonic stability theory, this study concludes that there is undeniable linkage between the foreign policies of Nigeria and South Africa and their hegemonic ambitions in the continent. However, by extrapolating the hegemonic stability theory at a regional level of analysis, the study finds very little empirical evidence to suggest the application of the theory at the regional level. While Nigeria and South Africa have been called upon repeatedly to play hegemonic roles within the continent, the study shows that both countries lack the conditions to effectively play such roles within a continent with major historical, internal and external constraints that puncture the possibility of a hegemonic influence. In short, hegemonic claim in Africa is mere (un)official rhetoric and lacks substance.