A former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Pascal Bafyau, yesterday died of a heart attack, at the age of 67.
Mr. Bafyau, who was the president of the NLC between 1988 and 1994, died in Abuja on his way to the National Hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at his residence.
In a statement, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, the current president of the NLC, said Mr. Bafyau will be best remembered for his efforts to achieve a strong and united Labour Movement, which was achieved in 1988 by the uniting of the two factions of the Congress, the Democrats and Progressives.
Outside the NLC’s internal struggles, Mr. Bafayu, who hailed from Adamwa State, came under intense criticism for conniving with the military government and selling pro-democracy activists out during the tumultuous years following the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections in 1993.
Statement By current NLC President Abdulwahed Omar:
PASCHAL BAFYAU: LABOUR GIANT, PASSES ON!
It is with shock and deep sorrow but with total submission to the Almighty, that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announces the passing away of its former President, Comrade Paschal Myeleri Bafyau.
Comrade Bafyau who passed on at 11.30pm on Tuesday 15th May, 2012 was the Congress President from 1988 to 1994. The five years he was NLC President were the turbulent years of the Generals Babangida and Abacha regimes. Comrade Bafyau had been elected NLC President in December 1988 after a ten-month seizure of the Congress by the Babangida regime. His Presidency ended in 1994 when the Military under General Abacha again seized the Congress.
Despite this turbulent period in the country’s history, which included the June 12 crises, 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.
But perhaps what he would be best remembered for was the strive for a strong and united Labour Movement. This, saw in 1988, the uniting of the two factions of the NLC, the Democrats and Progressives, which were engaged in a fratricidal ideological struggle.
Bafyau was Board Chairman of the National Mass Education Commission from 2009, member of the 1986 Political Bureau and the 1987 Constituent Assembly. He was also a Board member of the Urban Development Bank (UDBN), the Nigeria Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), and the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
Comrade Bafyau dedicated his adult life to the Labour Movement beginning from 1969 when at 22, he was elected the North East Branch Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Railwaymen (NUR), and rose to be the NUR General Secretary in 1982.
Throughout his life, Comrade Bafyau lived in the best traditions of the Labour Movement. He worked hard for sustainable democracy in the country. He also 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.
Adieu, Comrade Paschal Bafyau!