Babangida's tactics prompt opposition groups to unite: Karl Maier reports from Lagos on signs of weakness in the President's ploy to divide and rule
Tuesday 24 August 1993
In the past, President Ibrahim Babangida's eight-year-old military government has split the opposition by playing on ethnic and regional differences and, critics claim, by offering bribes to sway opinion.
So far, the focus of the anti-military protests has been south-west Nigeria, home of the Yoruba people of Chief Moshood Abiola, the Muslim tycoon who won the annulled 12 June presidential elections. When a boycott called by pro-democracy groups shut down the main cities of Lagos and Ibadan from 12 August to 14 August, the key northern cities of Kaduna and Kano, where the Hausa-Fulani people dominate, ignored the protest. That could change if Gen Babangida attempts to hold on to power.
Nigeria, cobbled together from more than 250 ethnic groups by British colonial engineers, remains today much as it was described in 1947 by the leading nationalist Obafemi Awolowo: 'Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression.'
Pro-democracy organisers in the mainly Christian Yoruba heartland have admitted that they have failed to spread the protests nationally. 'Babangida is playing the ethnic card, saying to the north that if you guys do not support me, you are going to have a southern president,' said one activist. The failure of south-western Nigeria to join with the Christian east, dominated by the Igbo people, against the largely Muslim north in the 1967-70 civil war, has also undermined the opposition. 'The east is saying to the west, look you did not help us, so we are not helping you,' the activist said.
Just four days before the military's promised handover to a civilian government, opposition to the Babangida administration and its plan to install an army-backed interim government has reached unprecedented levels. The 3.5 million- strong National Labour Congress (NLC), the oilworkers' union, and the largely middle-class Campaign for Democracy have called strikes for tomorrow to try to force the military to quit office.
Hundreds of journalists in Lagos, the commercial centre, began a one- day strike yesterday to protest at new decrees banning at least 10 publications, imposing stiff sentences for anyone publishing 'false reports', and forcing newspapers to undergo a rigid registration process.
The Information Minister, Uche Chukwumerije, responded to the strike calls by threatening to abolish compulsory union membership.
The Nigerian government announced late last night a 900 per cent increase in prices for top-grade fuel, a move human rights groups had predicted the authorities would make to create chaos and justify an extension of military rule.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...
£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...