Kaduna Labour Crises: Sustaining the Fragile Ceasefire

Although the storm in Kaduna State seems to simmer relatively, the smoke dispersed by the hot dry whirlwind to every nook and cranny still chokes many even to suffocating points. Governor of the state, Nasir el-Rufai is under fire for incessant vociferous termination of appointments of workers hiding under different guises.

Any case involving El-Rufai immediately goes viral on social media. Looking at his antecedents, one would recall how he stepped on toes in Abuja as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. His firm decision, thus, in sacking over 30,000 workers in the state since he became governor is not surprising.

The cause of the impasse between the Kaduna State Governor and the Labour Union in the state is not new. However, the dagger-drawn war took a new twist when the chief contenders on both sides engaged in verbal warfare, smacking every juice of leadership.

The Governor could be right to downsize the workforce in the state, so as to cut excessive recurrent expenditure in form of salaries and other overhead costs. However, the way and manner he executed his plan were clearly flawed in the face of the law and under all known rules of human relations.

The National President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, confirmed that Governor Nasir el-Rufai violated session 20 of the Labor Act, which stipulates thus: “In an event of redundancy, the employer shall inform the trade union or the workers’ representative concerned, of the reasons and extent of the anticipated redundancy. The employer shall adopt the principle of “Last in First out” in the discharge of the workers affected, (which is) subjects to all factors of relative merits, including skills, abilities and reliability.”

Similarly, Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN) condemned in very strong terms the venomous utterances of the sitting governor spewed on Ayuba. His words: “Declaring Ayuba ‘wanted’ for economic sabotage is uncalled for and unwarranted, calling him derogatory names defies the prestige and honour vested on the governor, consequently rendering the toga and status symbol of “His Excellency” worthless, as well as shredding the public respects attached to the lofty seat of the state executive arm of Government”.

While many lambasted El-Rufai for calling Ayuba a terrorist, Falana, dissecting the legal angle declared that the Governor lacks the locus standi to declare Ayuba wanted. Therefore, the utterances remain unconstitutional and hold no water.

The tensions followed with a swift intervention from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, as well as the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. A mandate was given to a committee set up by the Minister to look into the matter and report back before the end of May.

Nigerians expect both parties to sheath their swords following the suspension of the strike action. One must remember that “Where two elephants fight, the grass suffers,” hence the need for both parties to embrace dialogue to avoid crippling the economy of the state, as well as escalating other consequential outcomes.

Read Also: Kaduna Labour Crisis: Can State Governments Survive the Burden of Workers’ Wages?

Nigeria already is fraught with a myriad of unprecedented challenges yet to be fixed; therefore the country does not need any more unwarranted headaches in times like this.

Apart from this, El-Rufai’s utterances were too scathing. Could it mean our leadership evolution system and the yardstick for electing public officers are too pedestrian, perhaps based on extraneous ties asides competence?

On the issue of limited state resources, management and economics experts have consistently challenged every state governor in the federation including El-Rufai to look inward and prune excessive costs of governance, while using the savings to meet other critical and urgent needs of the state, instead of pushing hundreds and thousands of people into unemployment through arbitrary termination of appointments.

It is a waste of financial resources to have Personal Assistant (PA), Special Advisers and even Senior Special Advisers (SSA) on the same portfolio or ministry. It is also a colossal waste of resources to have a Ministry of Communication different from the Ministry of Information, with each having Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Personal Assistants, etc.
It is commendable that Gov. El-Rufai has reduced the number of his aides by 19. All public officers must be reminded that the younger generation (the future leaders of this country) are watching all events playing out in the country with rapt attention which is why they must tread with caution.

While the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment tries to quench the fire in the state, It is expected that both groups should continue to sheath their swords. Those hirelings contracted by some parties to unleash mayhem on peaceful protesters, as well as those who support any act of wickedness, must remember that “These Too Shall Pass” as posterity will reward everyone accordingly. The ceasefire must be retained. It is better we come early to the negotiation table and agree to live in peace, rather than draw daggers and spill blood.

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