Erstwhile chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday blamed former military president, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB, for adopting divide and rule tactics as well as eventual ban to destabilise the labour movement in Nigeria.
Delivering a guest lecture entitled: Labour, politics and governance in Nigeria at the 40th anniversary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Abuja, he singled out the administration of General Babangida for destroying the Labour movement in Nigeria.
He described the aborted transition programme midwifed by Babangida’s military junta as dubious and noted that the banning of 13 political parties by that regime in 1988/89, including the Nigeria Labour Party formed by the NLC, as a major setback for the movement.
“However, the regime banned all the parties and created the Social Democratic Party and the National Republican Convention. Between 1990 and 1998, the military rulers succeeded in clamping down on the NLC, infusing divide and rule within its ranks and destabilising it, because it had grown in influence, in alliance with the academic staff and students’ unions and other pro-democracy and civil society organisations; mounting effective opposition to the military regime from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.
“Indeed, the NLC was banned between 1994 and 1998, and its offices occupied by an administrator appointed by the military, through which the complete destabilisation of the labour movement was achieved and from which it took many years to begin to recover,” he said.
On why the Labour Party formed by the movement in 2000-2004 has not fared well, the former INEC boss stated that only political parties with broad popular appeal could win elections in the country.
He explained that it was difficult for a single, modular political platform that appeal to a dispersed, small segment of the voting population to capture political power in a country like Nigeria.
“The chances of victory are better with a political platform that has a broad popular appeal, that is not politically or even economically sectional; and that is, above all, with concrete potential benefits for overwhelming majority of citizens,” Jega said.