..Residents to resist apostles of violence
By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Despite strike threats issued by the organization labour, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Kaduna state and other affiliate bodies to shutdown Kaduna state on Monday, the state government led under Governor Nasir el-rufai remains adamant and grandstanding.
The state government is, allegedly, planning to arrest NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba on Monday during the strike in Kaduna claiming that there’s a subsisting Warrant of arrest against him for vandalising government facilities in the previous strike protest it organised in the state.
Reacting to the strike threats Saturday, the state government, in a text of press conference addressed by the Commissioner of Local Government and the Head of Service, stated that it’s aware of plans by some trade unionists, led by Ayuba Wabba, to reprised the mayhem they visited on Kaduna during their rampage of 8 November 2017.
“Such trade unionists have used fictions and misrepresentations to build up a campaign of hysteria. The Kaduna State Government has been made aware of plans by some trade unionists, led by Ayuba Wabba, to reprise the mayhem they visited on Kaduna during their rampage of 8 November 2017.
“That day, in one of the most shameful displays of irresponsibility, they thrashed the premises of the Kaduna State House of Assembly as part of their futile attempt to force the government to retain 21,780 teachers who did not pass a Primary 4 competency test.
“The State Government sacked the failed teachers and swiftly recruited 25,000 teachers to replace them and to promote the right of the children of the poor to decent education.
“Following that shameful 2017 episode, there is a subsisting warrant for the arrest of Wabba for the vandalization of government facilities, in violation of the Miscellaneous Offences Act and other laws of the land.
“As is appropriate, the security agencies have been notified of the plans of some trade unionists to recruit hoodlums, including from other states, to create a destructive spectacle and further their self-serving narrative about public service jobs and insecurity.
“The Kaduna State Government has been assured by some trade unions that they will not be part of the planned sabotage of social and economic life. We acknowledge and appreciate these assurances.
“The Kaduna State Government wishes to clarify that it will not be blackmailed by the criminal plans to attack and shut down power transmission stations, hospitals, government offices and infrastructure such as waterworks and streetlights.
“We note the brazen threat to the operations of private companies, their workers and facilities and the indifference to the rights and interests of their customers.
“Kaduna State Government’s obvious investments in schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure represent the rebuke to specious arguments that paying salaries will suffice as evidence of governance.
“Kaduna State pays salaries to its workers, but it also invests to develop the state, as every fair-minded person can see. But when its revenues drop, it will do what rational people do by reducing its expenses”, it stated.
The state government therefore called on residents of the state to resist the apostles of violence and do their utmost to protect public facilities.
It further stated that “On 20 December 2020, the Kaduna State Government asked workers below Grade Level 14 to stay at home, effective 21 December 2020 as part of Covid-19 prevention efforts and they have not been recalled to their offices since then.
“However, they continue to get paid. Along with officers from Grade Level 14 upwards, those workers that have been declared as essential by their commissioners and agency heads are expected at their duty posts as usual.
“The Trade Union Act is clear in prohibiting strike action by workers that are engaged in the provision of essential services. The law also forbids subjecting “any other person to any kind of constraint or restriction of his personal freedom in the course of persuasion” for strike action.
“The planned strike action and shutdown are futile gestures, just like Ayuba Wabba’s bluster and histrionics in 2017. KDSG has notified the security agencies who would take steps to thwart the violent intent of the organisers.
“Apart from the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 protocols, a ban on public processions subsists in this state.
“This was imposed precisely because of the violence that has frequently broken out from such processions even when they began with innocent intent.
“For its part, KDSG will protect its facilities and the right of its staff to access and work in their offices. It is unlawful for anyone to try to deny them access or exit. Government offices are not the property of any trade unionist and none of them should entertain thoughts of locking up or vandalizing any facility.
“As in 2017, the Kaduna State Government will not subject its policy to the veto of a mob.
“This government did not campaign on a platform of tired populism and it was not elected to practice timidity as public policy. It is not about to create the mistaken impression that it has much fiscal wiggle room as a subnational or that it is the supreme goal of government to pay 100,000 people while ignoring the larger public welfare of 10m citizens.
“The trade union laws of this country are not a cover for irresponsibility, and therefore everyone concerned should be rightly guided”, it stated.
Earlier, in the text, they allegedly recalled that “The NLC’s wanton fictions have been echoed by some other trade unionists who have variously and falsely claimed that the rightsizing exercise affects 4,000 or 20,000 or even 60,000 workers. This is not true, and neither is their claim that the Kaduna State Government has stopped paying the minimum wage.
“It bears noting that given the patchy level of compliance with the new minimum wage across the country, it is the state government that blazed the trail in paying it and has continued paying it at both state and local government level that some trade unionists are consistently traducing. Perhaps something other than worker interest is at play! We already know from the events of 2017 that some trade unionists privilege their ego and narrow interests above public welfare.