Kaduna Protest is fight for 36,000 workers ,disengaged teachers -NLC
By John Femi Adi
Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC said
the decision to mobilise its members across Nigeria to Kaduna today is a fight for the rights of 36,000 workers and families of those ,who were disengaged from Kaduna civil service.
The labour also said the last time NLC member from Abuja stormed Kaduna , it was about 21,000 teachers that were sacked ,but now it about over 4000 local government workers have been issued sack letters, with another over 8000 workers from ministries, departments and Agencies including tertiary institutions that have been served letters.
Addressing workers at the Kaduna NLC Secretariat, President of NLC,Comrade Ayuba Wabba commended the workersfor coming out in large numbers ,despite the intimidation, obstacles, the use of maximum force, including bullets to stop Union Leaders from entering Kaduna.
Wabba ,who also commended the Presidents and general secretaries of all industrial unions that converged on Kaduna ,said their presence in Kaduna is a sign that democracy has come to stay, adding ,”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.”
However , he condemned the use of over 8000 forces, including the military, police and civil defense deployed to intimidate union members .” 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 discourse 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.
“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 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.” He stated.
On the issue of competency test for teachers , Wabba said ,” It 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. ”
Meanwhile , he told the workers to be brave and firm on the reaolve to embark on street protest , noting ,” 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.
“In 2012, El-rufai joined us in the struggle and we gave him a T-shirt and a cap, after using protest he cannot come and deny citizens. If we don’t respect the rule of law then we are working towards anarchy.
“We wrote to the IGP that we are going to gather here today and to the Governor that we are going to deliver a letter to him.
“They have blocked all entry points to Kaduna, 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.”