Welfare concerns in Nigeria were primarily related to
general lack of development and the effects on the society
economic stringency of the 1980s. Given the steady
growth and the decline in urban services and incomes since
it was difficult not to conclude that for the mass of the
at the lower income level, malnutrition, poor health, and
overcrowded housing were perpetual problems.
Nigeria had no social security system. Less than 1
the population older than sixty years received pensions.
of the younger age of urban migrants, there were fewer
people per family unit in urban areas. Official statistics
questionable, however, because at least one survey
number of elderly living alone in northern cities or
persons living on the streets and begging. There was some
evidence that the traditional practice of caring for
beginning to erode under harsh conditions of scarcity in
areas. In rural Nigeria, it was still the rule that older
were cared for by their children, grandchildren, spouses,
siblings, or even ex-spouses. The ubiquity of this
open, however, the possibility of real hardship for urban
whose families had moved away or abandoned them.
Traditionally, family problems with spouses or children
handled by extended kinship groups and local authorities.
most part, this practice continued in the rural areas. In
settings, social services were either absent or rare for
conflict, for abandoned or runaway children, for foster
or for children under the care of religious instructors.
As with many other Third World nations, Nigeria had
social welfare problems that needed attention. The
existence of a
relatively free press combined with a history of
in journalism, the arts, the social sciences, and by
and political leaders were promising indications of the
and public debate required for change and adaptive
its social problems.
* * *
The literature on Nigeria is voluminous and includes
classic works on Nigeria's major ethnic groups. Among
the chapters by M.G. Smith (Hausa), Paul and Laura
(Tiv), and Phoebe Ottenberg (Igbo) in James L. Gibbs, Jr.,
Peoples of Africa. Urban Hausa life and its
political nature is explored in John N. Paden's
Political Culture in Kano. Possibly the fullest
account of a
northern emirate society is S.F. Nadel's A Black
the Nupe. Kanuri culture is the subject of Ronald
The Kanuri of Bornu, while Derrick J. Stenning's
Savannah Nomads is the best work available on the
Simon Ottenberg's Leadership and Authority in an
Society and Victor C. Uchendu's brief but readable
Igbo of Southeast Nigeria are recommended on the Igbo.
classic work on the Yoruba is N.A. Fadipe, The
the Yoruba. This work, together with Robert S. Smith's
Kingdoms of the Yoruba, is the best general work on
Understanding Islam in Nigeria still requires looking
Spencer Trimingham's classic, Islam in West Africa,
Islamization is well-treated in African Religion Meets
Islam by Dean S. Gilliland. Possibly the most
discussion on the synthesis of Christianity and Yoruba
is that by John D.Y. Peel in Aladura: A Religious
among the Yoruba.
Perhaps the best recent analysis of drought and
variation in northern Nigeria is Michael Mortimere's
to Drought. For a general overview of population
Africa, including Nigeria, the World Bank study,
Growth and Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa, is
useful, as are other standard World Bank and United
sources on current population trends.
Finally, much useful information on health and
be found in the annual Social Statistics in
published by the Nigerian Federal Office of Statistics.
further information and complete citations,
Data as of June 1991