Striking teachers defy el-Rufai as NLC shuts down Kaduna

Despite the intimidation by Kaduna State Government to clamp down on labour, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) went ahead to protest the sack of about 22,000 teachers yesterday by Governor Nasir El-rufai.

The rally led by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba was in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress while workers from other states and the FCT participated.The police deployed police into the metropolis, blocking the road leading to the NLC secretariat along Abdulrahman Okene road (formerly Lafiya road).

At about 11:00am, the workers led by the NLC President, forced their way to the streets after some arguments with the security, which comprised the police, civil defence corps, combat ready army as well as operatives of the Department of State Security.They marched through the Independence Road where the headquarters of the state Chapter of the NLC was located to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, the seat of power, to deliver a protest letter to governor Nasir El-Rufai.

As they marched, the placard carrying workers chanted solidarity songs.Some of the placards read, “MHNUN opposes slavery”; “ democracy without jobs is equal to bad governance” and “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

On getting to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, they were prevented from entering by security operatives who blocked the main route to the government house with their operational vehicles (Hilux vans).This forced the leadership of the NLC to sit in front of the gate. An emissary from the governor, a counselor on information, Mallam Saidu Adamu was rejected by the labour leaders who demanded to deliver the protest letter to either the governor or his deputy.

But after much pleading, they handed over the letter to him.Earlier, the NLC president while addressing the workers had told them that even with the presence of large numbers of security operatives, no force could stop the rally, which he said, would be “peaceful.”He said Nigerian workers from all over the country were in Kaduna in solidarity with their colleagues who had been sacked in their thousands.

According to the NLC boss, the state governor was sacking the workers as a precondition for a World Bank loan being sourced by the state.He told the workers how some members of the union were allegedly stopped on their ways from Abuja at the Kaduna Tollgate to attend the rally.Wabba said democracy in Nigeria was in danger as according to him, democracy could not thrive where the rule of law is trampled.He said development was all about the people and that workers had to be alive to enjoy it from the government.

He noted that demonstration was a fundamental rights of Nigerians which must not be hindered by security forces, noting that even President Muhammadu Buhari and the state (governor) had used the same platform to be “where they are today as such Nigerian workers must not be intimidated by the use of force on them.”

He said the over 8,000 security men deployed to stop the rally should have been sent to Benue, Taraba, and Adamawa to fight and not on defenceless workers.Meanwhile, security agents arrested about ten suspected hoodlums who attempted to disrupt the peaceful protest.