Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai yesterday raised the number of retrenched workers with the sack of all nurses below Grade Level 14.
El-Rufai, who is embroiled in a disagreement with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the earlier sack of over 45,000 workers, also threatened to dismiss the state university lecturers for being sympathetic to the ongoing five-day warning strike by Labour.
He also declared NLC President Ayuba Wabba and other union leaders wanted for what he called economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure.
But, Wabba dared the governor, saying:”We are here and waiting for them. The protest is not about him(El-Rufai) but about the welfare of the generality of workers.”
The Federal Government has, however, intervened to avoid further escalation of the crisis.
Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige made this known in Abuja.
Labour on Sunday night commenced the warning strike to get the El-Rufai government to reverse the mass retrenchment and prevent its planned further dismissal of 11, 000 more civil servants.
But the governor, who insisted in a statement that he would not make a U-turn on the sacked workers, said he had ordered an advertisement for applicants that will replace the nurses.
The statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, did not indicate the number of the affected nurses.
He was, however, explicit that three nurses at the Barau Teaching Hospital, who allegedly disconnected oxygen supply to a two-day-old in an incubator on Monday would be prosecuted.
El-Rufai, who described Wabba and the other union leaders as bandits, said it was heart-wrenching that the nurses could engage in sabotaging some of the state’s health facilities.
The statement titled: “KDSG will not tolerate criminal acts disguised as industrial action” reads in part: “Also, KDSG cannot ignore the illegal pressures brought to disrupt the operations of banks and other private business whose staff and customers do not have any industrial dispute with the state or any other government.
“KDSG regrets that some nurses have joined the unlawful strike and engaged in the sabotage of some of our health facilities. Nurses were implicated in the frocible discharge of patients in many health facilities.
“The Ministry of Health will dismiss all nurses below Grade Level 14 for going on an unlawful strike. Salaries that could have gone to them are to be given as extraordinary occupational allowances to the health workers who are at their duty posts to fill the gap of those absconding from duty.
“Any academic staff of KASU that does not report for work will be dismissed.
“KDSG views the actions of the NLC as equivalent to the actions of the bandits kidnapping and menacing our citizens.
“Bandits illegally use arms, but the NLC is deploying mob action for exactly the same ends: trying to hold hostage the freedoms, economic interests, livelihoods and resources of the people of Kaduna State. It is a vain expectation that this government will respond differently to sets of unlawful actions that have the same ends.”
Earlier, the governor had placed a bounty on Wabba and his colleagues in case they failed to report themselves to “the nearest police station” as directed by him.
Shortly after the threat by El-Rufai, the protest by labour that entered the second day almost turned bloody but for the quick response of security operatives who dispersed more than 50 thugs that threw stones and other dangerous weapons at Wabba and his co-protesters.
The incident happened at the NEPA Roundabout where the NLC boss addressed the protesting workers.
El-Rufai had in two separate posts on his Twitter [email protected] explained that Wabba and the Labour leaders were wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure. Their alleged actions, according to him, contravened the Miscellaneous Offences Act.