A Socio-Economic History of the Western Delta of Nigeria (1914-1960)

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Apena, I.A
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University of Lagos
This work is a study of the socio-economic consequences of colonialism on the people of the Western Delta. It questions whether or not the presence of British colonial administration and the activities of the British firms contributed to the progress and welfare of the people. It also seeks to examine the reactions of the people to government policy as well as the programmes and the activities of the expatriate firms. The Western Delta had been in contact with European traders since about the fifteenth century. It came under colonial rule by 1914 following British conquest. Between 1914 and 1929 the major features of the colonial economy were being established and by 1929 they had become clear-cut. The colonial economic policy favoured exploitation of the oil palm industry while it neglected the rubber industry. There was a symbiosis between the public sector represented by the government and the private by the commercial firms, principally the United African Company (UAC). Not only did the UAC participate in the exploitation of both the oil palm industry and rubber, it also initiated the mechanisation and modernization process of these industries. The UAC and, to some extent, the John Holt contributed in major ways to port development, to industralisation and provision of some basic infrastructures and social amenities for the people. These measures contributed to the growth and development of both the export and domestic sectors of the economy. From this standpoint, it is difficult to accept entirely the view of the Marxists scholars that the story of the colonial economy is one of retardation, underdevelopment and poverty. It is difficult to assess who, among the firms, the government and the people were in the final analysis, beneficiaries of the economic exploitation of the natural resources. This is because of lack of sufficient statistical data, although it is proved qualitatively that the people did employ some benefits. It is hard to condemn altogether the symbiotic relationship between the government and the commercial firms in the light of the developments in the capitalist system. Colonialism did contribute to capital accumulation among the indigenous entrepreneurs in the western Delta. And a major conclusion of this study is that colonialism did have its positive and negative effects on the people in the study area.
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Colonialism , Western Delta , Socio-Economic , History
Apena, I.A (1987) A Socio-Economic History of the Western Delta of Nigeria (1914-1960). University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts.339pp.