New Telegraph

The Kaduna State government and the NLC

The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has reacted to the reported threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to resume its suspended strike in protest against jobcuts in the state.

 

Mallam el-Rufai claimed that the disengagement of the workers was carried out, not by the state government but by the various local government councils which, according to him, remained independent of the state government.

 

He concluded by saying that his government would not fold her hands to watch the NLC make life more hellish for the people of the state and declared his readiness to rise to the labour movement’s challenge.

 

The governor has a right to free speech, which is one of the many features of democracy. In view of this, el-Rufai’s freedom of expression is sacrosanct under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Clearly while the people and government of Kaduna State deserve sympathy and empathy for disruption in services, however, the disengaged workers deserve more sympathy and empathy for abruptly being sacked, in a manner that manifested and continues to demonstrate a flawed appreciation of the primary purpose of government, which is to ensure the security and welfare of the people, at all times.

 

The NLC should be given thumbs-up for raising eyebrows over the job-cuts in Kaduna State that did not have its input as the voice of the workers. We are surprised at some of the actions of the state government.

 

It stands logic on its head that a government, which owes her emergence to the people, would become anti-people, by making life more hellish for her benefactors. Since thousands of persons were to be dispatched into the already-saturated labour market, the Kaduna State government ought to have deemed it fit to meet with stakeholders, which the NLC must be part of. This, regrettably, did not happen.

 

The claim by the governor that the job-cuts were effected by the local government councils, said to be autonomous, was, and is, merely an opinion that could not be regarded as convincing. Virtually, all the 774 local government councils in the country are, at best, the extensions of the 36 states including Kaduna State.

 

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), an organisation of the 36 state governors, is on record to have consistently opposed the administrative and financial autonomy of the local government councils. Joint accounts between local and state governments are a clear manifestation of the enslavement of the third tier of administration by the state governments.

 

And, if truly, the local government councils were the ones, which, independently, carried out the job-cuts, which, remains a doubt, why has the state government taken it up itself to be rationalising the unilateral action?

 

The alibi that the workers were disengaged on the grounds that they were not academically-fit and proper persons is mere buck-passing.

 

For a long time now, Kaduna State has remained a profoundly educationally-backward state. Even in the lifespan of the current administration, which is, in its sixth anniversary, the state has continued to be so, to the dismay of all.

 

The purpose of government, at all times, is to ensure the security and enhanced quality of life of human beings through people-oriented programmes and policies.

 

Evaluation of  any government including Kaduna State will usually revolve on many indicators that must include education, health, employment, science, technology, transportation, agriculture, water, electricity, access to credit facilities, friendly tax regime and ease of doing business.

 

The fact that Kaduna State has so far failed to lay a solid educational foundation, the state will continue to grapple with a large number of uneducated, poorly-educated and unproductive workers.

 

We draw attention to the expression that the state was ready for the NLC, with disappointment, as that, was an indication that strong armed tactics would be used, as was the case during the earlier strike, to scuttle the right of the workers to protest.

 

It is, without contradiction, the right, and not a privilege, of the workers, to ventilate their grievances through picketing, warning and indefinite strike as well as other lawful means.

 

The perceived violent disposition of Kaduna State speaks volumes about her reluctance to be labour friendly.

 

Why was the state government interested in carrying the can of worms of the local government councils, if, truly, they are independent of the state government?

 

New Telegraph urges the state government to toe the path of peace and dialogue so as not to undermine the already-fragile security in her jurisdiction. Workers, who have attained 60 years or served 35 years in service, should be encouraged to retire with the prompt payment of their gratuities and pensions.

 

Those, who are below the age of 60 or some outstanding years in service, should be allowed to complete their service-period.

 

The state government should review its mode of recruitment to be meritdriven, at all times. It is also imperative that Kaduna State leads the move for a review of the discriminatory cut-points for indigenes of different states for entry into the Federal Governmentowned educational institutions.

 

Kaduna State is regrettably a beneficiary of this mediocrity institutionalising policy, put in place by the then Military Government (FMG), following the second military coup on July 29,1966, and strengthened by the immediate successive military administration.

 

Till date, successive military and civilian administrations have looked away from the injustice of a country to her citizens, who come from educationallyadvanced states. This has resulted in persons from educationally-advantageous states studying far harder than their counterparts in other parts of the nation to earn their admission places.

 

But, this is not the case with those from the educationally-less developed states, some of who, to a reasonable extent, get railroaded into the Federal Government Colleges, Colleges of Education, polytechnics and universities, with low cut-offs, usually at expense of the high-scoring candidates.

 

Quality manpower and large-scale productivity will likely remain a distant possibility in any state including Kaduna State that continues to profit from discriminatory cut-points.

 

We enjoin the Kaduna State Government to ensure that only those only relevant positions are allowed to exist. Why should there be a Commissioner and a Senior Special Assistant/Adviser oversee a sector?

 

And why should there be multiple financial benefits and other privileges for political office-holders?

 

It is our firm belief that the labour unrest in the state will be a thing of the past; once the state government goes ahead to diligently implement the above recommendations.

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