Britain and Nigeria: Exploitation or Development

edited by Toyin Falola

Britain and Nigeria: Exploitation or Development

Some of Nigeria’s most prominent progressive historians have combined to write a tightly integrated account of the economic relations foisted on Nigeria by the British colonial occupation. Contrary to liberal and descriptive accounts of the colonial period, they argue that British rule was not an agent of development, but of exploitation and destruction. Successive chapters outline how the European powers exploited Nigerian society before the age of colonialism, and the economic interests that prompted Britain to take the country over in the late nineteenth century. The colonial economy is then examined: the new infrastructure to facilitate exploitation; the new system of agriculture and extractive production in the interests of the metropole; the unequal exchange inherent in British-Nigerian colonial trading relations; the merely token industrialization that took place; and the exploitation of Nigerian workers, including the prevalence of forced labor. The authors stress throughout the wider consequences of the destruction of indigenous institutions, the illusion of economic development that was created, and the relationship of the colonial era to the country’s present-day economic distortions and political instability.