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The Left in Nigerian Politics and the Struggle for

Socialism: 1945-1985
Tajudeen Abduiraheem and Adebayo Olukoshi
This paper is a brief historical overview of certain aspects of radical, Left-wing
politics in Nigeria in the 40 years between 1945 and 1985. It traces the origins,
growth and nature of the radical struggle for some form of socialist transformation in
the country and attempts to identify the strengths and weaknesses of some of the
organisations that were established at various times since 1945 for the attainment of
this goal. The myth that there is as yet no Left politics in Nigeria is false. By the end
of the Second World War, when the nationalist struggle for independence attained its
peak, radical activism both within and outside the trade union movement had started
in earnest and has been growing since then, taking various forms, as the
contradictions of the capitalist development process in Nigeria deepen. As politicians
of all shades begin to gear themselves in readiness for the proposed transfer of
power from the military government to civilians in 1990, the Nigerian Left can look
back to a heritage, with both positive and negative aspects, which we attempt to pinpoint in the course of our discussion. The crucial question is how the positive
aspects of that heritage can be harnessed and extended in order to advance the
struggle for socialism and how the errors of the past are to be avoided in the run-up
to 1990.

The full paper was published in Review of African Political

Economy, No. 37 (Winter 1986) and is freely available from: