Kaduna State Government has notified security agencies about the planned strike action of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and necessary steps will be taken to thwart the violent intent of the organisers.
The government revealed that some trade unionists plan to recruit hoodlums, including from other states, to destroy facilities and create mayhem under the pretext of engaging in strike action today.
Speaking at a press conference, the Commissioner of Local Government Affairs, Malam Jafaru Sani reminded the unionists that the ban on public procession is still in force.
‘’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,’’ he added.
The commissioner vowed that the state government ‘’will protect its facilities and the right of its staff to access and work in their offices’’ reminding that ‘’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,’’ Jafaru added.
The commissioner recalled that some trade unionists, led by Ayuba Wabba, unleashed mayhem ‘’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,’’ Jafaru reminded.
He further reminded that 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 since 2017.
According to him, ‘’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,’’ Jafaru pointed out.
The commissioner also said that some trade unions have assured the government that they will not be part of the planned sabotage of social and economic life.
Jafaru clarified that government 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.
According to him, the government has noted ‘’the brazen threat to the operations of private companies, their workers and facilities and the indifference to the rights and interests of their customers.’’
Justifying the planned rightsizing of workers, the commissioner argued that ‘’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.’’
‘’Therefore, the state government calls on residents of the state to resist the apostles of violence and do their utmost to protect public facilities,’’ he added.
Jafaru said that NLC has been bandying several figures about, regarding those that will be downsized, so as to justify its planned strike action.
According to him, the figures were sourced from ‘’the contents of a forged memo that first made its nasty appearance in 2019, alleging the casual engagement of workers on Grades 01-06, the imposition of maximum staff strength of 50 on each local government and the compulsory retirements of officers that are above 50.’’
The commissioner reiterated that ‘’this government was not elected to devote most public funds to paying government workers and treat that as its defining governance mission, to the detriment of developing the state and its people.’’
Reminding that Kaduna state was the first subnational to start paying the minimum wage, he argued that the government will not continue ‘’spending 84% to 96% of its FAAC receipts on salaries and personnel costs as has been the experience of the state since October 2020.