The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), have warned the Kaduna State Government against the ongoing plan to divert the N61,900,000 check-off dues belonging to both NULGE and the NLC.
Specifically, they called on the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to call the state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs to order and also instruct him to release all the check-off dues he had withheld since July last year to NULGE as directed by its headquarters.
They also implored El-Rufai to direct the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs to stop interfering in the activities of NULGE, especially on its Kaduna State elections as the leadership and members of the union are capable of running their affairs and resolve any differences in the union.
The President of NULGE, Comrade Ibraheem Khaleel, accused the Commissioner and the Special Adviser to the governor on political matters, of causing crisis in the Kaduna State Chapter of the union; and alleged that these top government officials were plotting to divert the withheld NULGE check-off dues without the knowledge of the governor.
According to the NULGE president, top government officials, led by the Commissioner and the Special Adviser, had allegedly used the Speaker who was serving as an Acting governor, when both the state governor and his deputy were not in the state, to perpetrate a move to divert the check-off dues.
He warned that their actions would destroy the prevailing good working relationship between the state government and Labour, adding that this would generate a bigger crisis for the state if not urgently checked by the state governor.
He explained that the check-off dues belong to both NULGE and the NLC, warning that workers would not accept a situation whereby government officials deliberately instigate crisis within their members with an intent to divert their money.
In a letter to El-Rufai, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, called on him to intervene before it’s too late; and told the governor that the action of the Commissioner has reversed the progress being made and put the organised labour and the Kaduna State Government once again at daggers drawn.
Comrade Wabba said: “We implore your Excellency to call the Kaduna State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs to order and to instruct him to release all the check-off dues he had withheld for the past six months (now seven months) from the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
“We request that your Excellency directs the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs to cease from interfering with the activities of NULGE, especially with regards to the forthcoming NULGE Kaduna State delegates conference.”
The letter read in part: “We are however concerned that the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs has unilaterally decided to reverse the progress being made and put organised Labour and the Kaduna State Government once again in dagger drawn. The conduct of the Kaduna State Commissioner of Local Government Affairs has further exacerbated our issues and further worsened the plight of workers in Kaduna State.
“The withholding of the check-off dues belonging to NULGE by the commissioner is not only a perpetuity in impunity but also in violation of a recent judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria forbidding any Ministry, Department and Agency of the Kaduna State Government from withholding check off dues belonging to any trade union in Kaduna State. To the best of our knowledge, that judgment still subsists.
“Furthermore, we understand that the Commissioner has an interest in the chairmanship of NULGE in Kaduna State.
Information available to us indicates that he wants to impose his brother as chairman of NULGE in Kaduna State
“The Commissioner has also gone to the extent of sponsoring rival factions in Kaduna State NULGE all with the intent of achieving his selfish agenda. Just recently, the Commissioner asked the rival factions of NULGE to reconcile their differences prior to the NULGE state delegates congress as a pre-condition to releasing NULGE’s check-off dues.
“The leadership of NULGE has informed the Commissioner that he has no locus standi to withhold the check-off dues of NULGE or to interfere in the activities of the union especially with regards to election in NULGE. NULGE elections are entirely up to the members of NULGE to decide not the Commissioner.
“It is also important to point out that the actions of the Commissioner constitute a serious infraction on Section 40 of Nigeria’s Constitution and the International Labour Organization Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and organising as ratified by Nigeria. Convention 87 posits that workers have a right to elect their own leaders without interference from government and or employers.”