From UANGBAOJE Alex, Kaduna
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Thursday mobilised over 50 thousand of it’s members across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, against the Kaduna State Government for sacking over 36,000 workers in the State.
The government had earlier in the morning tried to stop the union from protesting by deploying large number of security personnel, including Army, Police and Civil Defence, in every nooks and crannies of the city and also blocking the union members from coming out of their secretariat.
The Union leadership, defied every attempt by the government to stop them and force their way into the streets, chanting “el-Rufai, the Goliath let my people go, Brigadier General el-Rufai, we say no to dictatorship.”
Addressing the crowd before embarking on a protest match to the governor’s office to submit their letter of grievances, President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said it is regrettable that a governor that enjoyed the support of the workers to get to power has turned around to deploy 8000 security personnel against the workers.
He added that, “am aware that about 8000 forces including the military, police and civil defense were deployed this morning to intimidate us and use maximum force against us. Am aware that a lot of workers were also intimidated and others shot.
“Our leader in ASUU movement Dipo Fashina who is leading the intellectual angle of our discuss on his entry into Kaduna was manhandled.
“This is not the democracy we bargained for. Democracy is about the rule of law, about respecting human beings. In the history of our movement this is the only time that maximum force has been used to intimidate workers for fighting for their rights.”
According to him, We are fighting for the rights of 36,000 workers and their families who were disengaged from Kaduna civil service. The last time we were here we were talking about 21,000 teachers.
“But as we speak over 4000 local government workers have been issued sack letters. Over 8000 workers from ministries, departments and Agencies including tertiary institutions have been served letters.
We cannot keep quiet, this is not the democracy we bargained for. Let me assure you comrades that this is just the beginning. We have now tested the waters and the struggle would be carried to every state in Nigeria and Abuja to tell the powers that be where the problem is.
“We are here today to stand with Kaduna workers, I have also seen Presidents and general secretaries of all our industrial unions here present to support Kaduna workers.
Let me once again salute Kaduna workers that have come out in large numbers despite the intimidation, despite all obstacles, despite the use of maximum force, including bullets that was used today in the entering from Abuja to Kaduna.
This is to say that democracy has come to stay, this is to say that citizens have their rights to freedom of association. It is a fundamental human rights that no force on earth can stop.”
Ayuba, expressed worries that the same El-rufai who joined them in 2012, in their struggle and even wore their T-shirt and a cap, after using protest to get to power, cannot come and deny citizens their right, saying, “if we don’t respect the rule of law then we are working towards anarchy.”
He vowed that, “we will continue to strategize even if we have to come here every month, we will not be tired until the right thing is done.
“Evil cannot succeed over goodness and truth. Nigerians must know and here the story of Kaduna workers. The competency test is false because government had a predetermined number of workers they want to sack. So we know it is work in progress and no worker in Kaduna is safe.
“But we are confident that we can not be defeated, they can use force but we can use our number. Injury to one must be injury to all.”
He said, “before our protest, we wrote to the IGP because it is a constitutional rights, what the law says is that they need to give us security, and so we wrote to them, the law did not say we should seek for permission because it is a fundamental human rights.
“The same rights Kaduna State Government has used to bring thugs on two occasions to demonstrate in support of his policies. So why should it be different for Nigerian workers, why should Nigerian workers be prevented, including using security operatives who are supposed to be in Benue, Adamawa, Rivers where we have killings going on.
“We are harmless workers, we don’t carry arms, but see the security agencies with arms, this is not what we bargained for. Some people in government today use protest to be where they are today.”
He revealed that, “they had blocked all entry points to Kaduna while we were coming in, but thank God we are here. We will not rest until the issue is sorted out. This is because if 21,000 teachers failed competency test, the 12 000 workers what did they fail.
“That is to tell you that the whole 36,000 workers sacked have nothing to do with competency, we are told it was because it is a condition for assessing the world Bank loan, do you need to sack the people because of loan, government is about the people.”