The Influence of Companies on the Legal, Political and Economic History of Nigeria

George Nwangwu


The Company is one of the most influential inventions of all time. This legal creation gave birth to the industrial revolution which underpins our modern life by providing a platform which allowed people pool their resources together to change forever the way in which business is done .[1] This is true for Britain as it was the catalyst for the birth of the British Empire and for the world in general, fueling globalization as we know it today. The development of the Joint Stock Company also played a crucial role in the development of the legal, political and economic history of Nigeria. However most of the extant research on the history of Company Law in Nigeria have not been able to make this important connection, focusing rather on the narrow narrative on how the legal rules were adopted in Nigeria. This paper instead explores the much wider political and economic development of Nigeria through the prism of the history of company law in Nigeria. This approach is particularly important at this stage in the country’s company law development as the clamor for the reform of the Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA)[2] intensifies. It is important to understand the journey of the company so far in every ramification, to better appreciate what role it should play in the future.  To do this effectively, this paper traces the history of the company by employing a socio legal studies methodology.[3]

Keywords: company law, reform, history, economic development, political development

[1] Micklethwait J. and Wooldridge A. ‘The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea” Phoenix, London 2005, pg. 3.

[2] Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap 59, LFN 2004

[3] Socio-legal studies, looks at the realities of the law in action, the social effects of law and the wider questions of social structure and locates legal practices within the context of other social practices that constitutes its immediate environment. See the following:  Harris, D.R. ‘The Development of Socio-Legal Studies in the United Kingdom’ (1983)3 (3) Legal Studies, pg.315; Lacey, N. ‘Normative Reconstruction in Socio-Legal Theory (1996) 5 Socio Legal Studies pr. 131

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