The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, has said Kaduna State Government under the leadership of Governor Nasir El-Rufai has hired 50 truckloads of thugs to attack protesting workers in the state. Wabba stated this on Wednesday while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme. He alleged that the governor paid N500 each to some youths to disrupt the demonstration of the workers who protested the mass sacking of civil servants in the state on Tuesday. According to report thugs disrupted the demonstration of workers in the state on Tuesday. The state workers had on Monday begun a five-day strike over the governor’s retrenchment of about 60,000 workers and the alleged anti-labour policies of the government.
The NLC subsequently condemned the attack and threatened to embark on a nationwide strike.
Speaking on the television programme on Wednesday morning, Wabba said, “As I speak with you this morning, the security agencies are already there and they (Kaduna) have hired about 50 trucks of thugs to try to invade the NLC state office where our people are already converging. Is this democracy? Even under military (regime), labour leaders, labour laws have not been violated as it is today.
“The security agencies are already there, they are taking pictures, they are recording everything, all the vehicles, all the people.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), those people that were hired to carry placards, I have the records, they were paid N500 each. In fact, I have them on record, they are youths, most of them are below the age of 17. What kind of system are we running? The press needs to ask them what are they protesting for because our people that are affected, their stories can be heard. Basically, propaganda in this case must be exposed.”
Earlier, the governor on Tuesday declared the NLC President wanted for economic sabotage but Wabba dared El-Rufai to effect his arrest even as the union leader led workers on protest for the second day on Tuesday.
Kaduna State has been grounded for about 72 hours as aviation workers, bank workers, rail workers, electricity workers, health workers, teachers, amongst others, down tools in protest against the alleged injustice of the El-Rufai-led government.
Speaking on Wednesday, the NLC president described the El-Rufai government as “tyrannical”, “adamant” and “powerdrunk”. He also lamented that the governor was celebrating the disengagement of workers in the state citing paucity of funds.
Wabba said, “The issue we are engaging in Kaduna is about the fundamental rights of a worker. A worker is not a slave; employment relationship is guided by laws and those laws are very explicit. Our laws are very rich and there are provisions of the law on every subject matter. You cannot just throw workers out of jobs.
“Can any Nigerian not even trade unions fold our arms and watch a situation where breadwinners of families in their thousands are disengaged? What will be the social consequences? Already we are witnessing it. This is a core labour issue and that is why NLC is engaging the issue.”
The NLC president also said the union followed the law to give adequate notice in writing before the commencement of the strike “but the government of Kaduna State has remained adamant because we are in a situation where people that are powerdrunk can continue to do whatever they want to do”.
Continuing, he said, “What is happening is crude abuse of power and every Nigerian has now seen it. This action is going to be limited to Kaduna for five days and we are still here (Kaduna) and we are going to continue for these five days and where it fails, certainly we are going to escalate it because we believe that we have tiers of government and on this matter, we are very concerned and that is why we cannot change our position because justice has not be done to those workers. “How can somebody be celebrating the sack of workers? Is it the only state that has challenge economically? In many states, I will give examples: when Kano State try to revert to the minimum wage, immediately we wrote the governor and he requested for dialogue. He put the facts on the table and solutions were put on the table, the same thing in Rivers State but in Kaduna, we are dealing with a tyrant who does not have respect for the rule of law.”