Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state says he has provided a comprehensive briefing to President Muhammadu Buhari on the rightsizing policy of the State Government and the steps taken so far to implement it.
The governor said that Kaduna State will seek accountability for the actions of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state by setting up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the NLC strike and protest of May 2021.
The development may have set the stage for another round of strike by NLC.
This is because, apart from the governor’s threat of setting up judicial commission for the May strike, the state government had reneged on the agreement reached in Abuja that led to the suspension of the strike by NLC
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, on Sunday, El-Rufai explains that the Kaduna state government is hiring over 10,000 staff because rightsizing obliges the government to continuous recruitment of teachers, doctors, nurses and other qualified staff to provide vital services.
The Governor says he assures President Buhari that Kaduna state government is determined not to allow a repeat of the pains, economic losses and the restraints of freedom that the NLC inflicted on the people of Kaduna State..
Recalling the reconciliation meeting between Kaduna state government officials and the NLC held in Abuja on May 20th, El-Rufai explains that the state Executive council has already communicated to the minister of Labour that it cannot approve the agreements reached at the meeting between the state government and the NLC pertaining its rightsizing policy.
Alluding to the NLC’s renewed threat of strike action, the statement said that the NLC has demonstrated that it does not even believe in equality among its own members by describing the transfer of one Kaduna state employee to a place where other civil servants are serving as victimisation.
“It is trite that an MoU is not a legally-binding document. The content of the MoU shows that there is no congruence between the progressive aspirations of the Kaduna State Government and the misguided sense of entitlement of the NLC which does not even believe in equality amongst its own members.
“KDSG employees are serving with dedication in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area, amidst all the challenges. Yet, the NLC describes the transfer of one KDSG employee to Birnin-Gwari LGA as victimisation, as if other staff who have been loyally serving in the same area are lesser humans or permanent victims. KDSG rejects this unfair denigration of the very people that the transferred employee claims to lead.”
KDSG stated that “it is improper to describe the routine application of public service rules and labour regulations by a government as victimisation” and asked the federal Ministry of Labour to reconsider permitting such slurs in documents prepared under its auspices.
“Union membership or accession to a leadership position in a union does not grant immunity to an employee for his/her actions and conduct or exempt them from compliance with the laws that govern everyone else.
“There are procedures that need to be followed to make a strike action legal, and the kind of conduct permissible during legitimate strike action is also bound by law. Lawful strike action still subjects strikers to the no-work, no-pay rule. How then can unlawful strike action be expected to be without consequences, as spelt out in the relevant laws and regulations?”
The statement said that the dominant theme in the KDSG statement at the conciliation meeting was the state government’s rejection of the criminal actions that defined the NLC’s actions. “It was notable that the NLC delegation was eager for the discourse not to dwell on their violations of laws prohibiting the disruption of essential services and their recourse to coercion and restraints to the freedom of citizens. But these are matters that cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet, since unlawful actions that have come to be accepted as part and parcel of strike action remain unlawful.’’
The Statement reiterates that “Kaduna State Government has not yet disengaged any state civil servant but has dispensed with the services of 99 political appointees so far.” Only the 23 local government councils and the agencies associated with the local government system such as SUBEB and the Primary Health Care Board have released staff.
Noting that “rightsizing is about getting the optimal number of persons with the requisite skills to staff the public service,” the statement added that as it is releasing lesser skilled staff, the KDSG is engaged in continuous recruitment of teachers, doctors, nurses and other health workers to provide vital services for citizens. “More than 10,000 such workers, including 7,600 secondary school teachers are being injected into the public service.”
The statement explained that its commitment to fair assessment of the credentials of all officers shows in the painstaking approach to the rightsizing exercise for state civil servants. It said that it is only after the completion of the verification process that KDSG will “release any civil servant that is confirmed not to possess the minimum qualifications prescribed in 2017 as one of the outcomes of the state’s Public Service Revitalization and Renewal Programme.’’
The statement appealed “for the continued patience and understanding of all citizens as steps are being taken for the fair conclusion of this exercise.”