The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, on Wednesday led a march by hundreds of demonstrators through the streets of Kaduna in protest against the planned sack of 21,780 primary school teachers by the state government.
The state government said it will sack the teachers for failing a competency test organised for teachers of public primary schools in the state. It said it would recruit 25,000 qualified teacher in their place, a decision that has drawn the fury of stakeholders in the sector as well as labour leaders within and outside the state.
Apart from the teachers, thousands of workers were also reportedly sacked by local governments in the state acting on the directive of the state government to review their allegedly bloated workforce.
Following the refusal of the government to step back from the decision to sack the workers, members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, and health workers from across Nigeria gathered in Kaduna to join teachers from the 23 local government areas of the state in solidarity at the rally.
In their thousands, the protesters marched from the Labour House headquarters of the NLC along Independent Way to the State House of Assembly where they delivered a message demanding the recall of the sacked teachers.
The protesters waved leaves and placards with messages such as ” El-Rufaiology: A Total Disaster To Kaduna State”; “Kick Against Autocracy”; and “El-Rufai Must Go!!!”
Some of the health workers who participated in the protest said they feared it may soon be their turn to be axed from their jobs by the state government.
“You know the Hausa proverb that says “If the beard of your neighbour catches fire, you should help spring water on it before the fire gets to your own,” Michael John, a medical worker, said to reporters at the rally.
Addressing the teachers, Mr. Wabba said the NLC had not been formally communicated on the sack of the 22,000 teachers and 10,000 local government workers by the Governor of Kaduna State.
Even though none of the lawmakers was on ground at the Assembly complex to receive the protesters, the NLC president said: “Whether they are here or not, we have delivered our message because this is our house.”
Ibrahim Yusuf, one of the sacked teachers and a former Publicity Secretary of NUT in Soba Local Government Area of the state, alleged that many on the list of teachers released by the state government as qualified to retain their jobs were actually retired teachers, security guards and those who died long ago.
“Many of those whose names appeared as successful in the screening have retired two years back especially in Lere, Kajuru, Sabon Gari, Birnin Gwari, Sanga and many other LGAs,” while another teacher, Ayuba Garba, said the governor has no right to give three months’ notice for the sack of the teachers.