Poverty and Welfare in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1954
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This study examines the interface of poverty and development of state welfare initiatives colonial Nigeria. It attempts to unravel the transformation and the nature and character of poverty afflicting majority of Nigerians since the period immediately preceding colonialism and under colonial rule. It looks at the causes and manifestations of poverty as well as the nature of social welfare in pre-colonial Nigerian societies in relation to the new forms of poverty that British Colonial policies visited on the society. Poverty in the colonial period is shown to have been caused by changes in power relations and accompanying administrative and economic reorganization of the society which facilitated the diversion of labour, resources and surplus produce from family and household use to the colonial state, firms and their agents. This new form of poverty was manifested in the loss of family and household self-sufficiency and the inability to meet personal survival needs and obligations, making the majority unable to participate fully in the affairs of their communities. This dissertation looks at how the British Colonial State tried to achieve its objective of exploitation and deal with the problem of poverty in its various manifestations using indigenous institutions and practices and other nonindigenous strategies in the face of growing African resistance and declining productivity. It argues that over-aching strategy of development represented by the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940 and subsequent amendments and community development were designed to co-opt the emergent civil society into acquiescence with the social system and contain further resistance, and as such could not provide welfare nor alleviate the problem of poverty.