BY HAULATU IDRIS
The purpose of this write up is to send a message to Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUCN) because I and almost all the traders of Kaduna state have forgotten that we have a Union formed and saddled with the responsibility of our affairs.
I believe, in Kaduna state, no marketer has confidence that Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has capacity to intervene and come to their aid from ongoing wanton destruction of markets, until the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) showdown took place in Kaduna state. May be because of lack of orientation or experience, but at this time, we (marketers) believe it is time for our National Union to say enough is enough of the daily sabotage on traders of Kaduna state, because our state unions are afraid to come to our aid and can’t test the waters.
Truly, if there is any group of people in Kaduna state that deserves support, solidarity and sympathy on their problems, they should be the traders of Kaduna state, because I am a victim of the more than six (6) million circumstances of lawlessness order and arbitrary of court, on demolition of markets and shops in the State.
It is on record that many demolitions took place while the cases were before courts. And, it was for such evidences of contempt of court, the name of Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai was removed from attending the 2020 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
The Governor of Kaduna state during his 2015 governorship electioneering campaign, promised to make business in the state comfortable and progressive, and it was for that reason the Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN), Kaduna State branch supported his candidature as the governor of Kaduna state.
For the 2019 election. the marketers contributed from their pockets and purchased a Governorship Form for Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s re-election for ‘we’ thought the days would be brighter even though the cloud was thicker.
There are more than sixteen markets in Kaduna state occupied by more than six (6) million traders that were demolished.
Unguwar Rimi market has 6000 traders, Kasuwan Barci Market has more than 20, 000 traders, the Palladan Market, Zaria has 1000 shops with over 15 thousand traders, demolished Barnawa market has 600 shops with an estimate of 5000 traders, two markets were demolished in Unguwar Sanusi, Kawo market has more than three hundred shops with more than 10, 000 traders, Kasuwan Magani market was also demolished with more than two hundred shops, the Kantin Kwari Market with more than 6000 traders was demolished after renewal of Ownership Registration in less than two months, Hayin Rigasa market was the first market to be demolished in 2015 and the construction is abandoned.
The Royal Market popularly known as the 740 Garage was demolished with almost 30 shops and the plaza which occupied more than 400 shops is on notice, some parts of the 60-year-old Panteka Market was demolished and the marketers are on notice to vacate, Abubakar Gumi Market; the Central Market of the state is on Privatization after the governor revoked their allocation and the Unguwar Shanu Market is on notice for demolition. There is no market in the state that is not facing demolition threat.
In Kaduna state, no market is spared and no marketer is sleeping comfortably because at any time notice of demolition may be distributed and followed with bulldozer .
Many traders have died because of this terrible situation, and no proper documentation of traders before demolition or shortlisting of shops’ ownership, indicating no one has right to his/her shop.
It is time for TUCN to answer the call of its members with the respondibilty of protecting the lives and businesses of the traders.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUCN) which is an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was established in 1942. TUCN is the federated Trade Union and the first Union to receive government approval to operate on a national basis.
By law the Union has these mandates:
1. Protect members from unfair or unjust action of proprietors of business (and government).
- Intervention between the powerless and voiceless members and management.
TUCN is mandated to provide its members the opportunity of coming together to consider, pursue and promote common job-related interest, and also help workers to socialize with others.
Negotiate with management on other work benefits and misunderstandings.
Ensure the maximum security of traders and their goods.
In all the aforementioned responsibilities of the TUCN which was given by the constitution of Nigeria and the Union miscellaneous acts, no one among the traders benefitted since 2015 because of fear of demolition.
The TUCN has positioned itself to the government side and look at the sabotage of law on traders which continues to unfold in Kaduna state.
The withdrawal of TUCN to partake in the just concluded NLC Warning Strike in Kaduna state has uncovered the skeleton in the cupboard of the TUCN on the lawlessness acts upon traders of Kaduna state.
However, the closed-door meeting that TUCN had with the state government of Kaduna state before the NLC Warning Strike has fished out the smelling rat on the table of the two parties, and this is the time for TUCN to identify its true members and operate within its confines.
I remember how Kasuwar Barci traders suffered in court when they were left alone to fight the battle of the titans. Their market was demolished, while the case was proceeding in the court of law. TUCN cannot say it didn’t hear about the prolonged saga that affected its members.
TUCN should know that under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) every group has the right to protest against unsatisfied actions, and it is a fundamental Human Right for every marketer in Nigeria to enjoy the services of TUCN, because traders pay levies and charges to the Union, and for these all and sundry must be carried along in their services.
But, if TUCN felt that silence is the best answer to the traders of Kaduna state then history and God will never forgive and forget leaders that run away from their responsibilities on which they sworn to be objective and justifiable.
If NLC can show its true love to sacked workers of Kaduna state that were not up to 40,000. TUCN should have the concern and love of more than six (6) million marketers that their shops were demolished and privatised in huge whooping amount that they cannot afford. Marketers in Kaduna state see the Privatization as a system of capitalism, aimed to seize what is for the poor and give it to the rich.
All the demolished shops’ allocation prizes hitherto ranged from N5, 000 to N25, 000 but now the prizes range between N2 million and N15 million which is pathetic and unbearable to the rightful owners of the demolished shops.
TUC should know that only 500, 000 people made the workers of Kaduna state while 80% traders made the people of Kaduna state and surely, the traders of Kaduna state need its helpful hand as many of the traders continue to die of hypertension and ulcer.
Traders of Kaduna state have the right to get their shops back after construction of the demolished markets in affordable and accommodating and any change in this is condemnable and considered as moves to confiscate their properties.
TUCN should stop any ulterior motive by the government as all the shops were already allotted to marketers as the rightful owners because we perceived that Nasir El-Rufai is trying to seize what is meant for the poor to give to the rich to enrich the rich and make the poor poorer.
Marketers that owned their shops get their shops back after reconstruction as they have their Certificates of Occupancy and Allocation.
TUCN should hold a group discussion with the genuine marketers to hear from the horse’s mouth because the State union leaders may not offer accurate and clear information regarding the tribulations of marketers because they are afraid of losing their seats.
I believe that this would wipe away the running tears of Kaduna state traders and heal the wounds of their hearts and consequently, see brotherhood and love from our National Union .
Haulatu Idris writes from Kaduna and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org