The same old story in Nigeria

The following is taken from the Daily Times, published in Onitsha, Nigeria (25 June, 1954). It is a revealing comment on the problem of building up capitalism in Nigeria now that that country has been “freed” from direct British rule. The workers are to work harder in order to attract foreign investors, but are promised that they will not be “slaves.” They are in short to be wage-slaves like the workers in Britain.

“Generally the output of a Nigerian worker and that of his counterpart in a similar job in Britain are in the ratio of 1—4 that of a Nigerian miner is about a third of that of his British counterpart. This statement was made here by Mr. R. A. Njoku, Central Minister of Commerce and Industries, in the course of a lecture which he delivered under the auspices of the local branch of the N.C.N.C. If industrialisation was to be successfully carried out wages, cost of transport, and other recurrent expenses, he stated, should not be too high, otherwise there might be inflation of prices. The Minister regretted that the productivity of Nigerian workers was so low and appealed to everyone to be more productive. It was not easy, he said, to get foreign capital. We have to persuade investors to come. They are not anxious to come. Mr. Njoku said industrialisation could be run on a partnership basis with adequate safeguards for aliens with capital and for the country and that a stable form of government was essential: he said that any venture which would make Nigerians slaves would never be allowed in the country.”

H. G. B.

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