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Nigeria's interest at independence among other things had to do with the creation of relevant political and economic conditions in Africa and the rest of the world which will not only facilitate the preservation of the territorial integrity and security of all African countries but also foster self reliance in all African countries. 
But since this project is centered on Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the focus of this project shall be on West Africa. West Africa consists of sixteen states namely; Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Liberia and Nigeria.
One major success of Nigeria's African foreign policy was the development of ECOWAS in which Nigeria's role was pivotal. It was through Nigeria's determination to bring English and French speaking peoples of the West African sub region together through economic cooperation that ECOWAS was established in 1975. 
The treaty establishing ECOWAS was signed in Lagos on May 28, 1975 by the heads of state and government of the sub region. ECOWAS was established with considerable expectations as a viable strategy for the promotion of economic development in the region.
In 1972, a combination of circumstances made the promotion of the community an attractive venture to Nigeria. The first of these circumstances was the recognition of Biafra by Ivory Coast during the civil war. It was realized that rapprochement with neighboring countries was basic to Nigeria's national security if they are not to serve as platform for the promotion of political instability.
The second circumstance was Nigeria's emergence as a regional power, partly because of the large revenue accruing to the country from the sale of crude oil. It was crude oil revenue which enabled Nigeria to prosecute the civil war and assist some of the most economically affected West African states.
Thirdly, there was the commitment by Nigerian political leaders to make the country the industrial center of Africa. The establishment of an economic community in the region was perceived as the political-economic restructuring needed to redress the problems of regional under development. It was realized that regional free trade among developing countries could be a healthy stimulus to balanced economic growth and development. 
Nigeria as an active participant in the formation of ECOWAS has committed tremendous human and material resources, not only for her membership, but also to nurture and sustain the organization.  It contributes about a third of the annual budget of the sixteen member organization. Apart from housing the secretariat of the community and putting many infrastructural facilities at the disposal of ECOWAS, Nigeria has further underlined this commitment through various forms of bilateral assistance to member states. For example, she had sugar factory and cement plant joint ventures in Benin, and iron mining joint venture with Guinea. 
Over the years, Nigeria has also emphasized and assisted in the creation of the community's structures. She believes in the building of a strong regional institution as a pre requisite for the establishment of meaningful regional integration. Its annual contribution, thirty two percent of the community's budget is paid regularly in order to ensure the effective operation of the community's activities. Further financial assistance has also usually been extended to the secretariat located in Abuja, Nigeria in times of financial crisis.  For example in 1980, Nigeria had to salvage the image of ECOWAS by underwriting the eighty million Naira cumulative rent arrears of its secretariat. 
1.2 PURPOSE OF STUDY
This study aims at highlighting the role played by Nigeria in the formation of ECOWAS and the various steps that have been taken by Nigeria to ensure that the community does not fail.
This work would also dwell a little on the factors that motivate the role Nigeria plays in ECOWAS.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This work would help students who are in this field of study and other related courses, to understand and learn more about the role Nigeria plays in ECOWAS and her reasons for assuming such role. It would also be useful to businessmen and women, financial institutions, aspiring politicians and other interested members of the public. It would help them understand the stand Nigeria takes when it comes to matters relating to ECOWAS.
1.4 LITERATURE REVIEW
In the book, The Structure and Process of Foreign Policy Making and Implementation in Nigeria, 1960-1980, Olatunde Ojo outlined Nigeria's national interests. This includes 'Nigeria's political and security interests and the post civil war interest in indigenizing Nigeria's economy as a means of furthering the objective of developing, expanding and protecting the Nigerian bourgeoisie as the key to the development and growth of the national economy' as a factor which motivated Nigeria's decision to sponsor the formation of ECOWAS.  Ojo believes that Nigeria pursued the formation of ECOWAS in order to achieve its national interest in the economic, political and security aspects. This is an important fact which will be useful in the writing of this project.
Olajide Aluko in Essays on Nigerian Foreign Policy suggests that threats to Nigeria's security made Nigeria to seek the formation and the encouragement of ECOWAS.  Although Nigeria's security was part of the reasons she decided to pursue the formation of ECOWAS, there were other reasons which have been left out by this author in this book. This project will point out these other reasons.
Ayo Akinbobola in "Nigeria's Membership in International Organizations in the Twentieth Century: An Analysis", Nigeria's membership of ECOWAS provided the basis for the fulfillment of her foreign policy of Africa as the centre piece of her foreign policy.  This is true considering the steps that have been taken by Nigeria to ensure that ECOWAS does not fail. These steps taken by Nigeria shall be discussed in this project to further buttress this point.
F.O Adeyemo in Dynamics of Nigeria's Foreign Policy 1993-1998, viewed economic, political, and socio cultural considerations as the basis for the establishment of ECOWAS in May, 1975. He further explained that economic, social and cultural interaction between Nigeria and ECOWAS member states compels Nigeria to adopt a more tolerant attitude to countries in West Africa in general and Nigeria's neighbours in particular.  This author views Nigeria's interest in ECOWAS in the political, economic and socio-cultural aspect but he failed to examine the security aspect.