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Pascal Bafyau (1947-2012)

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The former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Pascal Myeleri Bafyau, passed on at 11.30pm on Tuesday 15th May, 2012. He was president between 1988 and 1994, a turbulent time for Nigeria's labour movement and political development.
His had been a life of struggle to liberate himself and fellow countrymen from the clutches of poverty. Born into a poor Bachama family from Adamawa state, the young Bafyau dedicated his adult life to the labour movement, beginning from 1969 when, at 22, he was elected as the North-East branch chairman of the Nigeria Union of Railwaymen (NUR). He rose to become the union’s general secretary in 1982.
Comrade Bafyau was elected NLC President in December 1988 after a ten-month seizure of the Congress by the Babangida regime.  According to the current NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, Bafyau would be best remembered for his commitment to a strong and united labour movement. He is credited with uniting the two factions of the NLC - the Democrats and the Progressives - which were engaged in an ideological struggle at the time of the 1988 election.
His presidency ended in 1994 when the military under General Sani Abacha again seized control of the Congress.  Apart from his involvement with labour issues, Bafyau was opportuned to serve the country in other capacities. He was appointed Chairman of the National Mass Education Commission Board in 2009. He was also a member of the 1986 Political Bureau and the 1987 Constituent Assembly;  a board member of the Urban Development Bank (UDBN); the Nigeria Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), and the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
But Bafyau’s first love was labour to which he dedicated all his energies. This is brilliantly captured in the tribute paid by Comrade Omar, the incumbent NLC President: “Despite this turbulent period in the country's history, which included the June 12 crisis, Comrade Bafyau made remarkable achievements as NLC President.  These include the building of the 12-storey Labour House in Abuja; establishment of the Labour Transport Service (now Labour City Transport); the founding of the now defunct Labour Bank (LACON); and the establishment of the old Labour Party in 1989.”
Omar further stated that “throughout his life, Comrade Bafyau lived in the best traditions of the labour movement. He worked hard for sustainable democracy in the country. He shunned material things. Despite the height he attained in labour and politics, as at the time of his death, he lived in a rented house in Abuja. His death is a big blow to the labour movement and the democratic process in the country.”
We call on labour leaders to emulate the exemplary life of honesty and humility lived by Pascal Bafyau. Nigerian political leaders also have one or two lessons to learn from his life of stoicism, courage and honesty.
We pray that the Almighty God will grant his family the fortitude to bear this great loss and also grant his gentle soul a peaceful rest.

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