By Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim
Freedom of expression is protected by section 39 (1) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria constitution. However, Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides as follows: Every person shall be entitled to assembly freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any association for the protection of his interests.
It is with these jurisdictions; I see nothing bad in the industrial strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) because their activities are contained and spelled in accordance to Nigerian constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Laws.
The NLC is doing what matters to it for the interest of its members. NLC is a body of workers and pensioners’ umbrella and base on what the papers had, workers are sack in Kaduna state without getting their entitlements. This is sad.
The first ringing sacked workers in Kaduna state were the more than 21, 000 teachers whom the government said they did not passed primary four Competency Test. Then, 7, 310 Local Government Workers to downsize the staff, 3000 Kaduna state Civil Servants, 1, 240 Health Care Workers and the recent that caused the current Industrial Strike in the state was the sack of 4, 000 Local Government workers which the governor, through his Spokesperson, Muyiwa Adekeye said, significant amount of the statutory federal allocations is being spent on the wages of public servants monthly and the government cannot continue to bear the burden of the staff.
In a time of economic hardship, insecurity and daily increase of inflation, sacking of workers by Kaduna state is not the ideal thing to do, because there are many ways to get out of the wood.
Kaduna state government has been reducing cost since 2015. In 2015 to 2016 through different verification exercises, the government uncovered 13, 336 ghost workers and the government was happy to say that the exercise save it many stitches. The governor and his Deputies reduced their salaries to 50% and the State ministries were capped from 19 to 13 and permanent secretaries from 35 to 18.
Again, in the efforts to reduce cost and save more for the state, Governor El-Rufai, appointed 10 special advisers and 12 special assistants as against the 24 commissioners, 41 special advisers and reduced the 400 special assistants appointed by the previous administration to a minimal level.
With all these beautiful economic management of Kaduna state, the painful thing is the government’s negligence to pay the workers their entitlements after disengaging.
‘The external debt profile of states, 2021 has shown that Lagos State is the highest debtor in Nigeria with $1.087 billion, followed by Kaduna State with a total of $234 million.’
Meanwhile, in 2019, the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KDIRS) said the state has generated over N44 billion as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) higher than Kano and became the third higher state revenue generator in Nigeria.
For me, and I am sure for many economists will not chose the path of sacking workers as the last alternative at this critical masses condition of inflation that hits 18%. I think, the system of downsizing workers by Katsina state may be the best.
NLC as an independent Union that monitors and checkmates the conditions of its workers can raise questions to many reasons of sacking workers that will only do more bad for the state and the country and boldness to come out to show their grievances may make good changes in Kaduna state.
On the Trade Union Congress (TUC), it is with dismay I want to respond to some of their issues bothering Kaduna state.
Markets Demolishing started in 2015 with the Chanchangi Modern Market in Hayin Rigasa which was a land that was given by late Ahmadu Chanchangi to the Hayin Rigasa residents to have a business field but the market was hijacked by Kaduna State government and handed it to Waziri Integrated Services (WISER) Big. lTD for construction and privatization, but since 2015 and up to now only 10% of the work is completed while form have been sold for shops purchase.
In Kaduna state, more than 12 markets were demolished and only one market was constructed while many traders suffered sunshine and rain on streets as many left the state.
The demolition of these markets like the sack of workers, no formal and due process are followed in some cases. The case of Kasuwar Barchi market was in court when the market was demolished on three day notice.
Traders in Kaduna state are in the same faith with workers and TUC has remained adamant and lost in the thing air to console its members.
But the visit of the leadership of TUC to the state government before the 5 day Industrial Warning Strike in Kaduna state has many explanations on the situation of traders of Kaduna state.
The TUC union is not much none to Kaduna traders as the Union has no concern about the traders’ welfares. In 2018 shop revenues were hiked and it went silently because the traders are afraid to cause alarm that will consume their marketers and shops.
Preparation to sell Abubakar Gumi Market is under course in November, 2021 and this will only add to more suffering to the marketers as the marketers can’t afford the whooping prises of their shops at this time that even the state government is crying on the economic situation. While, Kaduna state marketers suffered the Coronavirus lockdown than any state in Nigeria.
It is time for TUC to show love to its members and find a solution to this crumbling situations consuming traders in Kaduna state. No one is against development but there are ways to do everything good or bad and the TUC and Kaduna state government should choose the right path of prosperity for the development of businesses in the state.
As Kaduna state government has its own course to develop the people and accomplish its promises to the people, the state citizens and union bodies should respect their willingness to develop the people through the condition and order of operations.
The state is facing security challenges and demands should be toed in calm and peaceful resolutions. The state government owes the people and we should all support the vision of the state government in a manner that is open base of the laws of the land.
Long live Kaduna state and Nigeria and the people of our dear mother land.
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim writes from Kaduna State