The Integrity Group of Industrial Unions wishes to express its shock and sadness over the sudden passage of one of the most dedicated and accomplished leaders of the labour movement in Nigeria, Comrade Paschal Bafyau, on the night of Tuesday, May 15, 2012
As we mourn Comrade Bafyau, we remember him for his leadership as President of the Nigeria Labour Congress where he deployed his leadership skills to lay a solid foundation for the NLC even though in a period of authoritarian military regime that was determined to tame the activism of Congress and its allies. Comrade Bafyau’s NLC led its allies in the student union movement, civil society organisations and the Nigerian masses to challenge the military governments over several unpopular policies that culminated in the struggle for the actualisation of the annulled June 12 elections. It is the activism of this period that led to the proscription of the NLC along with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Non-Academic Staff Union Universities (NASU) in 1994 by the dictator, General Sani Abacha.
As one of the two representatives of Labour in the Political Bureau in 1986, Comrade Bafyau must be credited with being a very effective representative, as a number of the progressive ideals of the Labour movement found its way into the final report of the political bureau. This included recommendations for special provision for Labour, women and other disadvantaged groups in society in the political process. This is in addition to the landmark recommendation of the preference of a socialist mode of organization of society which the IBB military regime regrettably rejected.
Politically, he believed in the political empowerment of the Nigerian working class, hence his activities in the Political Bureau and the formation of the Labour Party in 1989, a direct result of his efforts that resulted in the unification of the two major ideological divides in the labour movement earlier in 1988.
As president of NLC, Comrade Bafyau sought to build a strong economic foundation for an activist Labour centre. In this regard, Comrade Bafyau will be regarded as towering above all others that held that office before and after him, in terms of vision of where our movement should be in the socio-economic and political dispensation of things. He not only built the imposing Labour House in the Central Business District of Abuja, which serves as the headquarters of the NLC and Trust Fund Pensions PLC, he got 10% of the Urban Development Bank of Nigeria (UDBN), now The Infrastructural Bank, for the Congress. He similarly established the Labour Transport Service and the defunct Labour Mortgage Bank as well as the construction of staff quarters in Gwagwalada, Abuja, in his quest to make labour a formidable institution in the country.
It was to Comrade Bafyau’s credit that the labour movement today has representations in the boards of some key institutions in the country. Such institutions include The Infrastructural Bank (formerly UDBN), Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and National Pensions Commission (PENCOM), among others. Comrade Bafyau had the opportunity to make himself very rich at the expense of the movement, but he did none of that. Instead he preferred to turn all opportunities that came along towards efforts to strengthen the economic base of the labour movement.
Comrade Bafyau will be remembered as a genuine labour leader who gave his all in the service of the Nigerian working class. We extend our sincere condolences to the immediate family members of our late comrade as well as the people and government of Adamawa State for this great loss. We also extend similar condolences to the Nigeria Union of Railways (NUR) which Comrade served as General Secretary for many years and under which platform he contested and became President of NLC.
While we pray to the Almighty God to give strength to those Comrade Bafyau has left behind, we equally pray that He will, in his infinite mercy, grant the soul of our departed comrade eternal rest. Amen!
Comrade Peters A. Adeyemi
For Integrity Group