May 19, 2021

Strike: Wabba dares el-Rufai, as gov declares him, others wanted

Governor Nasir El-Rufai

Governor Nasir El-Rufai

…Armed thugs attack labour leaders

…Oil, electricity workers threaten nationwide strike

…FG wades into face-off

By Victor Ahiuma-Young,  Johnbosco Agbakwuru,Omeiza Ajayi, Marie-Therese Nanlong&Ibrahim HassanWuyo

The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, yesterday dared Governor Nasir el-Rufai to come and arrest him and other other labour leaders after the governor declared the NLC president and other labour leaders wanted for alleged economic sabotage.

The governor also placed unspecified bounty on the labour leaders.

This came as armed thugs attacked labour leaders and workers and disrupted Tuesday’s protest by NLC leaders and aggrieved worker as part of ongoing five -day strike against wKaduna State government over perceived anti-workers policies including the recent sack of about 7000 workers including teachers.

Already, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and National Union Electricity Employees, NUEE, have threatened nationwide strike should the attack on labour leaders and the protesting workers continue.

Meanwhile, Governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have asked the NLC to return to the negotiating table with the Kaduna State Government rather than flexing muscles over workers’ sack.

Similarly, the Northern Governors’ Forum called for calm and dialogue in resolving the faceoff between organized Labour and Kaduna State government.

Wabba, others declared wanted

Governor el-Rufai had declared the labour leaders wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act.

The governor on his Twitter handle @elrufai, asked anyone who knew the whereabouts of Wabba and others to report to the state Ministry of Justice, saying “KADUNA UPDATE: Ayuba Wabba & others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage & attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act,” el-Rufai said.

“Anyone that knows where he is hiding should send a message to @MOJKaduna. KDSG. There will be a handsome reward!”

Armed thugs attack Labour leaders

The attack on Labour leaders took place after  Governor el- Rufai left the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, adjacent where the workers had assembled with heavily armed security operatives.

The armed thugs came in a bus and attacked the Labour leaders with various weapons like stick, bottles, stones and machete

Wabba blames el-Rufai

When the situation was brought under control,  Wabba blamed Governor el-Rufai for the attack and vowed that organized  labour would not be intimidated

According to him, NLC  was fully aware of the plan by the state governor to unleash thugs on them, and had as early as Tuesday morning shared the information and the video clips of the plan with security agencies.

Wabba said “”We said it in the morning. We mentioned the name of the person that was contracted. We mentioned the thugs that will be coming and I told all the security agencies, I called the DSS, I called the police, I told them that this is the credible information we have. We have the clip. This clip was trending since 6 am.

“They had the meeting in the night and we shared our intelligence with the police and the DSS. We were fully aware and that was why we informed the security agencies because it is the role of the security agencies to provide security cover for any protest.

Electricity workers

Reacting, Deputy President of NLC and General Secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajaero, among others, warned that the power blackout would go national from Friday, if the situation remained the same and el-Rufai refused to do the needful. The NLC had warned earlier that if after the five day warning strike, the state governor failed to address the issues, workers across the country would join in solidarity and commence a nationwide strike”.


Reacting to the development, NUPENG expressed sadness over the attack

In a statement by its President and General Secretary, Prince Williams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, among others, said “Union is calling on the Federal Government to immediately call on Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai to order before his arrogance and ego further push the situation into horrendous calamity as he has been doing in all issues relating to human lives and wellbeing.

“Consequently, the Union reiterates that no Labour Leaders or workers as the case may be harmed, harassed, maimed, humiliated or victimized during this 5-day peaceful protests in the state. Our Union is raising this alarm following the very reliable report of the clandestine move of Governor Nasir el-RUfai to hurt and put the lives of NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and other labour leaders to danger in his usual blind egotistical style of running government in the State

Falana Group

On his part, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, ASCAB,, said Governor el-Rufai, lacked the powers to declare the President of NLC and other labour wanted, saying, the declaration “is laughable as it is common knowledge that  Wabba and his colleagues are on the streets of Kaduna leading the peaceful protests embarked upon by the entire workers in the State since yesterday. The order of the Governor cannot be enforced for the following reasons:”

READ ALSO: N800bn unremitted tax is why FG insists on IPPS — Ngige

In a statement by Mr. Femi Falana SAN, said “By the combined effect of the Trade Union Act and the Nigerian Constitution, Comrade Wabba and other labour leaders have the unquestionable rights to participate in the peaceful warning strike and mass protests against further retrenchment of workers in the Kaduna State public service.


Similarly, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP,urged Kaduna Governor el-Rufai to “immediately end growing crackdown on workers and protesters in his state.”

In a statement by SERAP Deputy Director,  Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation, said: “Governor, Nasir El-Rufai and Kaduna state authorities must end the harassment and intimidation of NLC leaders and to withdraw the illegal statement declaring Mr Wabba and other NLC leaders ‘wanted’.

The statement, read in part: “Kaduna authorities must respect the human rights of Nigerian workers, and ensure the safety and security of the leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress. Declaring NLC leaders ‘wanted’ simply for peacefully exercising their human rights is antithetical to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international obligations.”

APC govs seek dialogue

Meanwhile,  APC governors under the aegis of the Progressive Governors Forum PGF in a statement  by their chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, said

“Noting all the challenges facing all our states, especially given dwindling revenue, we appeal to all patriotic Nigerians, including the NLC, to demonstrate more commitment toward engaging governments at all levels to address problems. This is not the time for muscle flexing”, they stated.

According to the APC governors, Nigerians are already overstretched with many challenges, adding that “at this critical point of our democratic journey, there cannot be limits to engagement between all governments and citizens”.

“Every step must be therefore taken to resolve the current face-off between the Kaduna State Government and NLC. We appeal to both the State Government and NLC to return to the negotiating table”, they counseled.

Northern govs

Also, the Northern Governors’ Forum, through its Chairman and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham said the Forum is “concerned about the impact of the strike on the State and its citizens.

While calling for dialogue and negotiations which is a long standing dispute mechanism in labour relations, the Northern Governors called for “restraint and de-escalation of the situation to enable for amicable settlement of the issues in question.””This is only possible when both parties operate within the law and approved conventions in ventilating their grievances as well as avoid making comments or taking actions that will further exacerbate the situation thereby heightening tension.”

FG wades into  face-off

Meantime, the Federal Government yesterday waded into the ongoing faceoff between Organised Labour and Kaduna State government over mass sack of workers

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige appealed to the Kaduna State Governor,  Mallam Nasiru el Rufai, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress,  NLC, Ayuba Wabba as well as President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, TUC,  Quadiri Olaleye  to immediately cease fire.

The Minister in a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Charles  Akpan, said,  “We are not unaware  of what is going on in Kaduna State . It is a labour issue which has snowballed into a national strike and picketing by the two labour centres and affiliate unions .

“We hope and also pray the Kaduna State Governor not to escalate  matters to such  a level where it  becomes uncontrollable. We also appeal to the leaders of the labour centres to step down action to make way for discussion.

“My Ministry is wading into the matter and therefore calls  on the two warring parties to give peace a chance . Importantly, I appeal to workers in critical sectors not to tamper with electrical or water installations so as not to bring more sufferings to the people of Kaduna and the nation at large.

“This is because we have it on good authority, following a complaints by the Minster of Power that workers have threatened to trigger a nation-wide blackout by interfering or switching off the national grid.”

Vanguard News Nigeria