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Economic empowerment and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen in western Nigeria, 1945-1960
The article is premised on the need to illuminate the experience and attempt to empower Second World War ex-servicemen in Western Nigeria economically with the light of historical scholarship. Economic empowerment was the most critical issue in the rehabilitation of the ex-servicemen in Nigeria after the Second World War. The experience of the ex-servicemen in this regard was shaped by the policies of the colonial administration which initially emphasised the payment of pension as well as the disbursement of loans and grants to the veterans. This was followed by an attempt to provide salaried-jobs for them through the Labour Exchange. However, Britain’s wartime fiscal policy of restricted financial commitment to the colonies, coupled with the economic depression that accompanied the war, resulted in the poor implementation of these pecuniary empowerment measures. Skills acquisition was adopted as an alternative approach. Therefore, vocational centres such as Ondo Cooperative Textile Training Centre, Ado-Ekiti Textile Training Centre and Oyo Weaving and Textile Training Centre were opened to teach skills, equip and enable the ex-servicemen take up self-employment. These were also handled with levity and failed to resolve the problem adequately. Consequently, the ex-servicemen explored self-help through public donations, loans from the Nigerian Union of Demobilised Soldiers, and the sale of poppies. This study explores how these developments unfolded in western Nigeria from 1945 to 1960 and also attempts to provide explanation for the rather perfunctory attitude of the British and the ex-servicemen towards most of the rehabilitation programmes.