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