Abstract

In the wake of decolonization, Britain wanted to maintain its strategic interests in Nigeria and to keep the newly independent African country in the Western orbit. Having abrogated a defense agreement in reaction to Nigerian domestic opposition, the British government counted on military assistance to secure its postcolonial security role. The British thus hoped to gain responsibility for the buildup of a Nigerian air force, which the authorities in Lagos wished to establish for national prestige and protection against potential enemies such as Ghana. The Nigerians, however, first tried to secure the requisite assistance from Commonwealth countries other than Britain before opting for a West German air force mission. The Nigerian government aimed to reduce its dependence on Britain and thereby burnish its neutralist credentials. Yet London was challenged by a Western version of neutralism, similar to Western neutrality, because the Nigerians never attempted to approach the Soviet bloc about military assistance.

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