The newspaper press and labour agitations in Nigeria, 1938-1960

Alimi, Ismail Shina (2015)



This study provided an overview of the form of relationship that existed between Nigerian press, labour unions and the nationalist from 1938 to 1960. It analyzed how changes in socio-economic and political systems affected labour agitations and the roles of the press in Nigeria. It also examined the patterns of the nationalist struggles, the nature of the press activism, labour agitations and their involvement in the decolonization process in Nigeria. The study evaluated the effects of government tactics, politics and actions on the press, labour unions and the nationalists. It discussed the response of the Nigerian Press and labour unions and the nationalists to the government policies. This was with a view to showing the forms of labour agitations, newspaper activism and nationalist struggles in Nigeria from 1938-1960. The study employed both primary and secondary sources of data. The major primary sources comprised, newspapers particularly those with national coverage between 1938 and 1960; archival documents such as Colonial Office (CO) papers, reports, letters and memoirs of labour departments, government gazettes, intelligence reports and pamphlets. These materials were collected from public archives in Nigeria, London and the United States of America. The secondary sources included journal articles, books, projects and theses, and the Internet. The data obtained were subjected to critical historical analysis. This study challenged the nationalist narrative of labour agitations during the colonial period in Nigeria. This was achieved by unbundling and rethinking nationalist historiography of Nigeria. By employing the instances of nationalist struggle, labour agitation and newspaper activism, the study found that methodological problems in the reconstruction of African history cannot be divorced from the adoption and adaptation of foreign models that were hardly neatly fitted into the reality of African situations. The study found that labour agitations during the colonial period were both an independent and interlinked events with the nationalist struggles. It was discovered that the goals of labour agitations only shifted from the economic survival of the workers alone to the economic and political liberation of the country when the nationalists exploited the labour crisis of the period. It was found that there existed, reciprocal relationships, sometimes mutually beneficial or convergent and sometimes conflicting or divergent, between the press and the labour unions. These patterns of relationship were determined by the political and economic interests as well as the ethnic background of the publishers of newspapers. The study also found that radical nationalism in the post-war Nigeria was inspired by the writings, speeches and personality of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe whose disposition contributed to the collapse of radical nationalism of the period as exemplified in the government crackdown on the Zikist Movement. The study concluded that labour agitations during the period of decolonisation were geared towards securing better pay and improving the welfare of the workers. Whereas these agitations were caused by socio-economic changes of the depression and the war years, the agitations later shifted from being economic survival of the workers to the economic and political liberation of Nigeria. Supervisor: Dr. A. O. Adesoji Pages: