Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Rhoda Howard
This work is a study of urban industrial workers in the Nigerian Middle Belt. The major objective is to examine the attitudes and behaviour of urban industrial workers regarding class, ethnicity and politics in Nigeria. My concern with the subject arises from debates on the role of African working classes in social and economic development of the continent.
The debates center at one level, on the issue of whether African working classes can be dismissed as constituting a conservative labour aristocracy, with no revolutionary political significance, or regarded as constituting at the very least a potential revolutionary political force. At another level the focus of the debate is on the relationship between class and ethnicity, the key issue being whether ethnicity constitutes an asset, a liability, or is irrelevant to working class (revolutionary) political behaviour.
In this study I argue that Nigerian industrial workers constitute neither a labour aristocracy nor a revolutionary political force, rather a complex interplay between class and ethnicity renders revolutionary conceptions of the Nigerian working class premature at the moment. Class and ethnicity represent concrete social and economic realities in the Nigerian political economy, and whereas the ruling classes manipulate ethnicity as a political ideology for their accumulative interests, the poorer classes, including the working class, also utilize ethnicity as social, economic and political mechanisms to survive in their conscious conditions of subordination. Under conditions of the contemporaneous development of class and ethnicity in Nigeria ethnicity constitutes an integral element in the process of class formation among urban industrial workers. The incorporation of politicized ethnicity as part of this process, I suggest, weakens working class political solidarity, and hence their political significance. The experience of post-primary education reduces the ethnic element among workers and politicizes their consciousness, but even the influence of education has not been sufficient to make workers constitute themselves into a revolutionary proletariat.
Zasha, James Achin, "Industrial Workers Perceptions of Class, Ethnicity and Politics in The Nigerian Middle Belt" (1984). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1405.