In Nigeria, new political parties are emerging after the military government lifted the 12 year old ban on political activity in preparation for the scheduled return to civilian rule, due to take place in October next year.
In Nigeria, new political parties are emerging after the military government lifted the 12 year old ban on political activity in preparation for the scheduled return to civilian rule, due to take place in October next year. The ban was lifted by General Olusegun Obasanjo, the Head of State, under the Government's four-year timetable for a return to civilian rule. This allows 12 months of political activity before the general elections. Within days of the announcement the first new party held its inaugural rally.
SYNOPSIS: Supporters of the Unity Party of Nigeria gathered in Lagos on Saturday (7 October). Altogether, there are 15 parties in the process of being established, but the Unity leaders had been preparing for some time for the lifting of the ban on political rallies, and this demonstration was their first.
The party leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is a veteran campaigner. For him, the location of the rally was a reminder of political life in Nigeria before the military regime. The rally was held in Tafawa Balewa Square, named in memory of Nigeria's first Prime Minister after independence. At that time Chief Owolowo was leader of the opposition. Now, the Chief, a member of the Yoruba tribe, has stressed that his new party stands primarily for the unity of all the ethnic groups within the country.
Chief Awolowo told his supporters the country was emerging into "a day of sunshine and light". He paid tribute to the present leaders for honouring their promise of a return to civilian rule. Now, he said his party was determined to restructure the whole of Nigerian society along socialist lines, concentrating first on education, health, employment and rural development.
Observers expect the Unity Party to gain considerable support, particularly because it promotes ethnic integration. Political observers in the past have noted the problems of governing Nigerian because of the clash of tribal interests. Now Chief Awolowo has called on all supporters to forget the animosities of the past.