Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has alleged that his fellow governors failed to support him during his administration’s showdown with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the retrenchment of workers in the state.
Governor El-Rufai made the accusation at a virtual meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on Wednesday.
The NLC commenced a five-day warning strike in the state on Monday following the decision by Governor El-Rufai to disengage 4,000 workers across the 23 local government areas, citing the state’s high wage bill for the development.
In response, the governor on Tuesday declared the NLC President, Wabba, and other leaders of the congress wanted for alleged economic sabotage.
The strike, which was temporarily suspended on Wednesday, resulted in a power outage, shut down of the airport, closure of schools and fuel queues in various parts of the state.
Speaking at the meeting after Duoye Diri, Governor of Bayelsa State, raised the matter, Governor El-Rufai lamented that he did not get the required support from his colleagues.
He said: “I am a governor. I am one of you. The least I expect from the Nigeria Governors Forum is unequivocal and unqualified support. I didn’t see that in that statement.
“I am being very blunt. I could pretend and be political and just smile and say it was alright but it is not. But I am used to fighting my own battles.”
Governor El-Rufai also claimed that an unnamed governor mobilised funds for the NLC leadership to travel and destabilise Kaduna State.
He also accused labour unions of being the greatest threat to Nigeria and warned his colleagues that they must “collectively address this monster” to prevent the situation from been replicated in another state.
He said: “We will fight this. We are breaking them and they will leave town ashamed. I will not give them one inch because this is not about unionism.
“If it is about rights of workers, Kaduna is not the only state that has retrenched workers. Kaduna is not a state owing salaries. Kaduna is not a state failing to pay minimum wage. Kaduna is not a state owing years of pension arrears. Why didn’t they go there? Kaduna was targeted for political reasons; and they are being financed by certain political interests. But we will fight them, we will defeat them but as the Governor of Bayelsa said, and since he has brought that subject, I have a responsibility to put it through, unless we collectively address this monster, it will consume all of us.
“After this, they (NLC) will never come back to Kaduna. They will never come back, you will see. They will go to other states. It is up to the forum to decide on what to do, but we are here, we are ready, we will end this by the grace of God.
“I would like to inform the forum that one of our colleagues, a state governor actually gave the NLC money to come to Kaduna to do this because people think everything is politics. This is not politics. This is a monster that will consume all of us. It will not consume Kaduna I’m confident of that.”
But when reminded that the NGF issued a statement from the office of the chairman on the issue calling for restraint on both sides, Governor El-Rufai replied: “That press release with the greatest respect was unhelpful. It was unhelpful. It said nothing. It was trying to play both sides.”
Speaking earlier, Governor Diri flayed the forum over its lack of support for the Kaduna State Governor.
He warned that the situation may occur in other states, insisting that state governors are responsible to their citizens and not the NLC.
He said: “We are not running a unitary system (of government), we are a federation. We were elected to govern different states. We owe our people accountability not the NLC, we should take a common stand.”