These certainly are not the best of times for Kaduna State given its well-documented history of religious/political crises and the latest dispute between Labour and the State government occasioned by governor El-Rufa’I’s decision to lay off over seven thousand workers.
The measure, expectedly, didn’t go down well with the NLC which, led by its President, Ayuba Wabba, decided to declare a five-day warning strike obviously with a view to compelling the government to rescind its earlier decision and therefore reinstate the affected workers.
But El-Rufa’I is not a man to be cowed and true to his nature, he has maintained an uncompromising stance on the issue and made it categorically clear that his government will not rescind its decision even if the NLC were to strike ad infinitum.
The governor ‘s stance on the issue is in my view, over the top and may not help a quick resolution of the issue at hand.
The Kaduna State government has hinged its decision to sack workers on the fact that there is a need to downsize the State Civil Service and maintain a lean work force which is efficient, competent and economical. The government also claims that the Civil Service at the moment is over bloated and consuming most of the state’s resources thereby making it difficult or even impossible for government to divert funds into more socially beneficial ventures such as infrastructure and social amenities.
This appears to be a cogent excuse, but it could in my view end up hurting the state more especially given that the masses in the state have had to cope with myriads of economic challenges such as low incomes, job losses and consequently poor living conditions occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic.
It therefore doesn’t seem fair to retrench workers at a time when economic conditions are dwindling.
I believe the governor means well for the State and given his track records as a reformist and revolutionary leader, he would want to bequeath a Kaduna State worthy of its name and of which posterity will be proud. Besides, no government anywhere in the World ever succeeds without a viable and efficient Civil Service.
However, retrenching workers at this point is ill-timed especially since the State in question has suffered in diverse ways from myriads of security concerns such as banditry, kidnapping, and religious crises. Retrenching workers in order to downsize will only result in more unemployment, poverty and economic hardship which could in turn, take a toll on the security situation in the State.
As a solution, I think the governor and Labour need to sit on the dialogue table to find amicable and workable solutions.
This will imply both parties sheathing their swords and coming off their high horses to give room for dialogue and mutual understanding. Of course, as the adage goes, ‘When two elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers.’ The people of Kaduna State have been at the receiving end of this imbroglio as they’ve had to cope with life without such essential services such as power supply, water, etc.
The Federal government’s intervention in the crisis in the form of apprehending the strike action and inviting the warring parties for dialogue is welcome, but that alone may not necessarily be effective enough to address the problem. Whatever the Federal Government intends to do with a view to helping to find a workable solution will depend to a large extent on the willingness of both parties to listen and surrender to the superior argument. An urgent solution is necessary so that normal life can resume in a State where the civil population is already seriously battered by myriads of social challenges.
Shu’aibu Muhammad Doro, News & Current Affairs Department, Unity Radio fm/tv Jos.