Trade as Exploitation: Perspectives on the Political Economy of Colonial West Niger Igbo Area, C. 1886 – 1930

  • JG Nkem-Onyekpe


This is a study of the commercial operation of the Royal Niger Company and John Holt and Company in the West Niger Igbo area from 1886 to 1930. The activities of the companies in the area heralded significant political economic development, the penetration of merchant capital, the development of trade in palm product, and the alteration of the structure of the local economy and the concomitant increase in the “exchange value” component of production. The paper analyzes the economic impact of colonial penetration on production and exchange. It argues that although the penetration of merchant capital into the area provided a “vent for surplus” and therefore was a big fillip for the expansion of production, much of the benefit of expanded production was appropriated by merchant capital and its local agents not only through the unequal terms of trade built into the system, but also through chicanery and deceit.

Lagos Historical Review Vol. 8 2008: pp. 1-19

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eISSN: 1596-5031