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El-Rufai, NLC and the Citizens: Two Fighting Elephants and the Suffering Grass.

Peter Jerome

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had directed its members in Kaduna State to commence a five-day warning strike from midnight of Sunday the 16th of May. This is coming after the entire State was thrown into total blackout on Sunday ahead of the industrial action called by the NLC, as the Union’s reaction to El-Rufai’s April unconventional retrenchment of civil servants in the state which he claimed was done on fiscal grounds.

As typical, Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State has rebuffed the Labour Union’s warning insisting on non-reversal of the planned decision to disengage the civil servants saying “I am ready for them”. He insisted that he will not bow to the intimidation of the NLC over its planned ‘rightsizing’ of the state workforce.

Labour argues that its aims and objectives are to protect, defend, and promote the rights, wellbeing and the interests of all workers, pensioners, the trade unions and the working class in general; and, to promote and defend a Nigerian nation that would be just, democratic, transparent and prosperous through the attainment of the following objectives:

To promote, defend and advance the economic, political and social rights and wellbeing of Nigerian workers and pensioners.

To continually enhance the quality of life and improve the income and other working conditions of workers.

To promote and sustain the unity of Nigerian Trade Unions, ensure total unionization of all workers irrespective of their creed, state of origin, gender and political beliefs.

To promote the existence of one trade union and/ or one federation of trade unions in every industry; including the emergence of one central labour organization in Nigeria.

To continually strive towards the attainment of gender equity and improvements in the status and conditions of women in the world of work and society.

To work for the industrialization and prosperity of the Nigerian nation and ensure protection of jobs, full employment and a humane working environment.

To continually struggle to influence public and corporate policies and legislation on all issues at all levels, in the interest of workers, disadvantaged social groups and trade unions.

To establish relationship and cooperation with Labour Movements the world over; and the African region, and play cardinal roles in the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), and Organization of Trade Unions in West Africa (OTUWA).

To promote and sustain positive industrial relations practice in Nigeria by strengthening collective bargaining in all sectors of the economy and internalizing appropriate work culture among workers.

To cooperate with other organizations with whom the trade unions share common and or specific interests for the attainment of these objectives.

To ensure a viable financial base for the Congress by engaging in profitable business ventures, wholly or jointly owned with other establishments, including the right to own property, mortgage and disposal of same for the purpose of the attainment of Congress’ aims and objectives.

To print and publish literature for the purpose of enhancing and achieving the aims and objectives of Congress and its affiliates.

In the light of the above, an independent mind will clearly understand that the move of the Labour Union is a simple response to the call of duty and the reaction of the governor equally a simple response to the attack of his ego and possibly a move towards the tides of realities.

However, regardless of their respective motives, the reciprocal effect their actions and inactions will interpret on the lives and wellbeing of the citizens they both have as their principal obligations to protect is in a severe state of danger and collapse.

Just this morning in a release signed by the Head, Corporate Communication of Kaduna Electric, Abdulazeez Abdullahi, titled, ‘power failure due to NLC’s industrial action’, Kaduna Electric disclosed that the service interruption is a result of the strike embarked upon by the NLC. Consequently, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN in compliance with NLC directives has knocked off all 33KV lines in Kaduna State.

Presently, all petrol stations and other energy markets in Kaduna state have been directed to cease all operations for the next 5 days. The ugly effect this will have on the economic life of an average citizen in Kaduna can better be imagined.

On Saturday, the Commissioner of Local Government Affairs in Kaduna state, Malam Jafaru Sani, while speaking at a press conference in Kaduna on, claim to have uncovered a plot by the NLC to recruit thugs from other states to cause mayhem under the pretext of embarking on industrial action.

The irrefutable truth is that this whole saga from all logical perspectives, spells total doom for the common citizens who are apparently the direct victims in this fight. They NLC and the El-Rufai led Kaduna state government throw the blows and the citizens gets the punches. If these two warring parties claim they are both defending the interest of this same suffering masses, what then is the civic and (or) moral justification for this combat?

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