Socialism

Socialism in action- Queen’s College students taking routine milk diet provided by Government in Yaba
Queen’s College students taking routine milk diet provided by Government in Yaba, Lagos June 1959 Source: Keystone Features Getty images

Socialism is an ethical science and a universal set of principles conceived as a guide to progressive governance. It is a principle that militates against the aiding and abetting of private ownership of the means of production to forestall the exploitation of man by man. Socialism was the self-professed philosophy of Awolowo’s Action Group from the time it was conceived and also that of the party’s successor, the Unity Party of Nigeria. The AG manifesto for an independent Nigeria had been captioned ‘Democratic Socialism,’ for its believe in the private ownership of the means of production and distribution with the sanctioning of the exploitation of the masses of workers. This, according to some scholars is better described as liberalist-reformist-capitalism rather than socialism.

 

Socialist Western regional government education card permit, 1965, enabling complete primary education without pay
Western regional government education card permit, 1965, enabling complete primary education without pay. Source: See Me See Nigeria

 

Socialism, in the view of Obafemi Awolowo, stands for education of the general citizenry, and a sabotage of ignorance and diseases. This, he pursued with the introduction of free healthcare and free mandatory primary education when he was premier of the Nigerian Western region. Although he avoided extremes in his advocacy for socialism and he defended the need to harness rather than suppress the Nigerian entrepreneurial class, his ideology was fiercely opposed by his lieutenant, Ladoke Akintola, who favored the pragmatic and conservative stance. While the AG professed democratic socialism, the dominant party of the Eastern region, the NCNC’s own ideology, included with its socialist leanings, a revolt against foreign domination in thought. The so-called Pragmatic African Socialism starts off with a society it considers as yet to go through the changes of industrial revolution. Capitalist control, for this softer version of Nigerian socialist ideology too, is adjudged weak and relatively young.

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