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State-sponsored “Feminism” and women empowerment in Nigeria: The case of the better life programme, 1987 – 1993
This paper argues that although the issues of first ladyism and the role of women in the transition politics of the Babangida regime are important in the examination of the state-sponsored Better Life Programme (BLP), the significance of the programme can, however, be better understood if it is situated within the context of the massive opposition to the neo-liberal Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and attempts at delegitimising the opposition while creating an alternative basis of support for the Babangida regime from among rural dwellers. Since it was believed that the opposition was mainly urban-based, the regime decided to woo the rural dwellers by sponsoring various supposedly rural transformation and grassroots empowerment projects, with the BLP being one of such projects. However, given the antecedents of the BLP, the programme soon became a reflection of the undemocratic, corrupt and decadent neocolonial Nigerian state and so, did not succeed in either empowering the rural women or in creating a new basis of popular support for the Babangida regime.