By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA- THE Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, yesterday cautioned Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, not to burn down the country with his actions against the Nigerian workers expressing their displeasure over the mass sack of civil servants in the State employ.
NULGE also called on the National Assembly to prevail on the governor to redress his alleged unfriendly dispositions with the workers as his action could spread across 36 states if not prevented on time.
President of NULGE, Comrade Ambali Olatunji, gave the warning when he led a delegation to visit a former deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, in Apo legislative quarters, Abuja.
The NULGE boss said the current face-off between workers and Governor el-Rufai was gradually degenerating into anarchy.
According to him, “Your excellency, sir, we are happy to be here. We know your opinion counts in Nigeria. We hope you will lend your voice to resolution of the labour imbroglio in Kaduna. What we are witnessing now is a return to anarchy and we hope as a leader you will do something.
“We watched some of our leaders talking but we still need your voice and we hope that NULGE will count on your support to actualize this dream of a better Nigeria through granting of total autonomy to local governments in this 9th assembly.”
In his response while fielding questions from journalists shortly after the meeting, Senator Ekweremadu said that the leadership of the national assembly will engage the governor, noting that el-Rufai was supposed to have negotiated before it degenerated into that level.
He condemned in strong terms, the invasion of NLC Secretariat in Kaduna by thugs suspected to have been hired by the state government.
He said, “I’m not just a legislator, I’m also a lawyer. So, I believe in the freedom of expression, I believe in freedom of assembly, I believe in constructive engagements and I believe in the respectable airing of opinions.
“So, I expect that the government of Kaduna State should be able to engage the labour unions constructively.”
Senator Ekweremadu, who is representing Enugu West Senatorial District called on labour leaders to reinforce their members across the country and resist the thugs sent by unnamed politicians who are hell-bent in disrupting the peaceful protest.
He said, “Now that it is turning violent, this is the time for other associated labour unions to get involved to show solidarity to the labour people in Kaduna such that the government will now be forced to engage labour in a manner that is constructive.
“Sending thugs to start harassing labour unions’ leaders and their members is completely unacceptable. It shows that we are not actually in the 21st century. As leaders, sometimes we have to take responsibilities, we also have to show restraint in the face of provocation, that is what leadership is all about.
“We should not be behaving like thugs or sending thugs to go and dispatch people who are protesting, especially when it is not violent. So, the national assembly will continue to support the free expressions ideas and views in this country including labour organisations as long as labour itself tries as much as possible to be responsible.
“I believe that the leadership of the national assembly is also going to engage the government of Kaduna State to ensure that this thing is contained. I’m happy that everybody is talking about it. I understand that the federal government is intervening presently.”
Recall that governor el-Rufai had on Wednesday threatened to deal with Wabba and other labour leaders for paralysing the economy of the State through their actions, saying they are “criminals” and they would be treated as such.
While addressing the 23rd Annual Tax Conference organised by the The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) in Kaduna, he vowed that Wabba and other labour leaders will never return to Kaduna by the time his government was done with them.