Kaduna — Labour leaders and the Kaduna State government are headed for a showdown after both sides took a hard stand on the plan by the government to sack over 21,000 teachers.
National labour leaders yesterday descended on Kaduna and joined their local counterparts in a protest that temporarily paralysed the city centre.
National president of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a speech said unless Governor Nasir El-Rufaí rescind the decision, labour will return in full force to "shut Kaduna down totally."
But the governor in his first reaction to labour's threat said the decision is irreversible.
The protest begun early in the day when the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) took over the popular Independence way,
Hundreds of teachers and workers from the 23 Local Government Areas of Kaduna state as well as pupils and students took part in the protest march.
They set out from the Kaduna NLC secretariat and marched to the state house of assembly to express their anger.
They took over the Independence Way as they moved on to the assembly, amidst heavy security.
Holding placards with various inscriptions, the angry workers found their way into the assembly pulling down the glass door leading to the chamber as the multitude surged forward.
No member of the assembly addressed the crowd. The national president of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, addressed the crowd and condemned the move by the state government to sack teachers and council workers, saying it is inhuman to take people out of their jobs.
He said the governor's action will lead to rise in crime rate in the state. "Names of some dead people appeared on the list of those who passed the competency test, so also names of security men who did not sit for the exam," he alleged, saying El-Rufai is using them as a smokescreen to tell the world that teachers have failed exams.
"We must therefore not relent in our efforts to defend this issue to the letter. Be ready and let us drive the process.
"Next time we come, we will shut Kaduna down totally. We will come with our families, mats, mattresses and food and occupy the state," he warned.
One of the union leaders aked: "That test given to teachers, can El-Rufai pass it? The crowd chanted NO. Where in the world is 75percent a pass mark? 75percent is Excellent. Elrufai is not competent to test our teachers," he said while he urged teachers in Kaduna to remain resolute saying, the war they are into is a war that must be won."
He assured the local government employees that El-Rufai's proposal to retrench them will not work. "We are behind you," he said.
The national president of NULGE, Ibrahim Khalil also condemned the plan to sack workers. "We will continue to fight for our right as workers from state service to local government service. This is not the end, it is just a warning action, next time, if El-Rufai refuses to reverse his decision to sack workers, we will come en masse; we will mobilize the entire Nigerian workers from the nook and crannies of the country to Kaduna. We will close Kaduna airport and train station, we will close all the motor parks, markets while offices will be shut down and then we will move to the government house," he said.
Also, the chairman of Arewa Coordinating Committee, Bulama Abiso said teachers are the least valued people. He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.
Abiso, who is also the chairman of Borno state NUT, led executive members of the union from the 19 northern states on solidarity to Kaduna state. He accused the state government of sacking teachers on the pretence of failing competency test. "We will fight the cankerworm, kill the snake and cut the head," he said.
Earlier, primary school pupils in protest against sack of their teachers also took to the highway along Maraban Rido, but they were dispersed by the police.