State, capital and labour in Nigeria: an historical overview of the productivity problem

Uwakwe, Emmanuel Ekeoma (1990) State, capital and labour in Nigeria: an historical overview of the productivity problem. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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That low productivity is a crucial problem in the Nigerian economy is well supported by empirical evidence. Industrial factories fail to produce at optimum. Agriculture, once the prop of the economy, has decreased in importance. Food, consequently in short supply, has become disproportionately imported. Hence, food trade debts now increase already huge national debts to foreign creditors.

Yet the combined volume of imported and local food does not sustain the increasing population. This, sometimes, is at the very basic level of subsistence. Therefore, malnutrition and low life expectancy do occur in the economy. These have combined with unemployment, excessive inflationary trends, and low investment rates. The economy, thus, is clearly one under stress. This is basically because it is an under-producing economy.

The stress on the economy has lingered for a long time. However, it has been most marked in the three decades beginning from the Independence year, 1960. Several attempts have been made to analyse the problem. Most of these, however, have been neither conclusive nor convincing. Sometimes, factors in the innate personality of the worker have been posited to account for this problem. At other times, indigenous management skills have been criticized. Additionally, what often is described as Nigeria’s 'Economic environment' has been regarded as the primary factor responsible for the problem.

The present study provides a distinctly sociological explanation of the problem. Generally, ill-miotivation among Nigerian workers has become widely regarded as the prime factor that explains the problem. Ill motivation among the workers is seen to be due to perceived discrepancies between the satisfaction of the workers’ needs and the attainment of the goals of their workplaces. It is deemed imperative, therefore, to cut a path ensuring that workforce needs and workplace goals are simultaneously met Productivity, thus, would rise.

This Path-Goal hypothesis is a point of departure for the approach adopted here. The former is regarded as reductionist in maintaining that the problem, in all its complexity, could be solely understood by reference to the human need-satisfying nature of Nigerian workers. In contrast, the present study emphasizes the need to trace the roots of the problem to its structural sources. It locates these in the conflicts between the State Government and Private Capital in Nigeria. It holds the contest between the State Government, Private Indigenous Capital and Private Foreign Capital for control over the Nigerian economy chiefly responsible for low productivity in the economy. Labour, it maintains, contributes to this problem through its resistance against attempts to impose control over it by the protagonist State and Private Capital. Therefore the problem, it holds, is not primarily one of an ill-motivated workforce.

In this frame, Chapter I defines the problem in greater detail. It also discusses some earlier approaches to the problem. Chapter II examines various general intellectual approaches to the overall productivity question. These date from the early productivity studies initiated in the U. S. and Britain before the First World War to the recent attempt to resolve the problem in Nigeria on the basis of social psychology. Chapter III is a critique of this social psychological approach.

An alternative approach based on an emphasis on the structural sources of the problem is given in Chapter IV. This Chapter examines some general elements in the Nigerian social structure including: Geography, Politics, Religion, and Ethnicity. It stresses the important role played by these factors in the Nigerian social structure. However, Chapter V argues that the contradictions between the State Government and Private Capital are more important than these in understanding the Nigerian social structure. Chapter VI underlines the significance of structural contradictions particularly for productivity in the economy with an analysis of the relations between the State and labour. What is concluded is that these conflicts and contradictions cause and exacerbate low productivity in the economy. Labour is not seen to be primarily responsible. Chapter VII is a brief summary of this conclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Eldridge, Professor John
Date of Award: 1990
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:1990-74376
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2019 14:58
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2019 14:58

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