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Alleviating Poverty in Nigeria through the Improvement of the Labour Conditions in the Informal Economy

A Socio-ethical Enquiry


Samuel Rapu

«Just wage and just working conditions have always occupied a central position in Catholic social ethics. The social teaching of the Catholic Church has however preoccupied itself for a long time with the employment relationships in the formal economy. Consequently, the self-employment and the other individual economic activities in the informal economy, highly important in developing countries, have until now not been ethically reflected upon. In this excellent study, the author takes the Nigerian situation as a point of departure from which he offers new opportunities for developing a poverty alleviation strategy that aims, above all, at creating Decent Work opportunities in the informal economy. This is indeed an excellent contribution not only to the further development of the Catholic social ethics for the African context but also to the current efforts in the continent at reducing poverty in a sustainable way.»
Professor Dr. Bernhard Emunds, Frankfurt am Main


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The idea behind this dissertation was conceived within the context of my parish pastoral ministry. My encounter with people afforded me the opportunity to be a part of their life. An essential part of the parish pastoral ministry was to visit the parishioners who could no longer come to the church. One of such visits made a striking impression on me. It was a visit to a family whose members I noticed were no longer coming to morning masses as they used to do. It was discovered during the visit that their absence from the church was due to the fact that the man of the house had been critically ill and the entire family was on the blink of total collapse. The man in question was a farmer who, before he became ill, though not a rich man, could at least produce what was sufficient to meet the basic needs of the family. His wife supported the family financially by selling beans pies (popularly know as akara) and bread at the roadside. This woman had no capital of her own except her frying-pots and her labour. She got every other thing she needed for her business on credit – loaves of bread, oil, beans, etc. As is always the case with businesses of this nature, this woman was expected, to pay back on a daily basis what she got on credit. Getting new supplies on credit depended strictly on her ability to pay back previous ones. She kept faithfully to...

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