The crisis in Kogi State could lead to anarchy and weaken democratic institutions, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC said on Friday.
The NLC, in a statement by its president, Ayuba Wabba, also called on the federal government to intervene in crisis in the state.
The foremost labour union lamented the apparently forced resignation of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alfa Imam, in the state.
“The offence of the former Speaker was that he had initiated a legislative process to look into the disbursements of the Paris Club refund following non-payment of salaries and pensions and the industrial tensions in its aftermath,” Mr. Wabba said.
The state governor has since denied sponsoring the thugs or being behind the crisis.
A new speaker, Mathew Kolawole, was elected on Thursday.
In his statement on Friday, Mr. Wabba also condemned the ban on the lecturers’ union, ASUU, at the Kogi state university by the governor.
Read Mr. Wabba’s full statement below.
We are appalled by the developments in the Kogi State House of Assembly in particular, and Kogi State in general.
For those who may not have been in the know, last week, the speaker, Honourable Alfa Imam was forced out and a more pliant one installed. The offence of the former Speaker was that he had initiated a legislative process to look into the disbursements of the Paris Club refund following non-payment of salaries and pensions and the industrial tensions in its aftermath.
But the former Speaker was lucky to have gotten off “lightly” as the House Member who moved the motion for this process ended up in Plaster of Paris (POP) courtesy of the thugs dispatched to disrupt the House proceedings.
The Kogi State mess represents the height of intolerance, insensitivity and impunity, and a precursor to dictatorship and anarchy and should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians and apprehended by the Federal Government before the situation spins out of control.
Accordingly, we call on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, commence investigations into the disbursements of bail-out funds (50% percent of which it had directed should be applied to payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities); continuous non-payment of salaries and pensions; endless staff audit which has become a convenient alibi for owing salaries and pensions.
We also believe that the Federal Government should be concerned that the state-contrived industrial disharmony in the state is slowly but steadily degenerating into a political crisis as exemplified by the clamp down on ASUU and the State-sponsored violence in the House of Assembly and other acts of witch-hunt in the State’s socio-political space.
We need not remind the Federal Government that these represent strong threats to our democracy and should not be condoned.
Government should not be under the illusion that the developments in the state will simply peter out with time. It will be a criminally negligent assumption, and therefore dangerous.
We at the Nigeria Labour Congress similarly consider ourselves duty-bound to remind the Federal Government that it should not sacrifice the interests of the people of Kogi State on political considerations or convenience. The Kogi State situation has dragged on for too long and the Federal Government cannot continue to look the other way. The time to act is now.
Finally, we are guided by the dictum that it is better to build strong institutions instead of strong individuals, because whereas strong institutions protect our democracy, strong individuals threaten it.