What seems to be easily overlooked by observers of regional integration is the role of some key actors, whose engagement may serve as a mandatory condition for any integration project to materialise. In West Africa, one such actor is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose commitment to regional integration in the field of peace and security has been essential in such a sense that it would not have been possible without, even less against it. The sheer size of Nigeria’s population, hence market, the amount of natural resources as well as her considerable military capabilities bestow on her, as it were naturally, the role of a regional hegemon.
Then again, questions remain: How do her internal challenges affect Nigeria’s ability to project influence in the region and beyond? Does the nation itself have a consistent understanding of her national interest, converging to coherent foreign and security policy doctrine? What are neighbouring countries’ perceptions of and expectations towards this ‘African Giant’, and have these changed over time? One of the most intriguing questions this study is addressing is the following: Might the development of regional norms and the more comprehensive understanding of security, both of which may be seen as a means to ‘taming the giant’, actually serve Nigeria’s well-understood interests?