Labour and Politics in Nigeria, 1945-71

Labour and Politics in Nigeria, 1945-71

Labour and Politics in Nigeria, 1945-71

Labour and Politics in Nigeria, 1945-71

Excerpt

Wage and salary-earners are a small, but none the less relatively coherent and organized, segment of Nigeria's population, whose role hitherto found only a limited place in the study of Nigerian politics and society. While numerous studies of the electoral machinery, political parties, and military have been undertaken, the all-too-apparent fragility of Nigerian political institutions would seem to furnish a justification for examining a larger body of data regarding emergent social groups and primary associations (like the trade unions, farmers' unions and co-operatives, ethnic associations, or professional bodies) which together provide continuing elements in the political process. To shift the burden of analysis to a group based on economic links would at first sight seem inappropriate in view of the all-too-apparent importance of ethnic interaction and identity manifested by the events of the civil war. But naked expressions of political conflict can also serve to obscure changes occurring at a more subterranean level -- the recent events in Nigeria make all the more necessary an evaluation of underlying social tensions and their possible political significance.

In endeavouring to describe the features of a Nigerian working class, plot the fortunes of the organizations that grew up to serve its need, and analyse the social and political structures within which the unions are contained, I found it necessary to venture out of my own interest in political sociology to the more unfamiliar areas of historical description, economics, and industrial relations. No doubt the naïiveté of expression and the inadequacies of some assumptions will be apparent to the specialists, but I hope that the study as a whole has been informed by the use of a multidisciplinary perspective.

The study of labour movements in Africa has now progressed considerably beyond the continent-wide generalizations characteristic of the literature in the early sixties. Major book-length studies have been published recently on Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, and this study may therefore be regarded as a contribu-

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