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El-Rufai: A governor and his many controversial policies

KadunaThe Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai is not new to controversies and name-calling over policy decisions. But he is not known to back down easily on what he tenaciously believes in.

As minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, many believed he courted controversies.Even outside office, he merely slowed down, for there was no space to express himself, policy-wise.

Now as governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai is flowing in his elements again, seeing things differently and the way many may not.

Since assuming office on May 29, last year, El-Rufai has not left his supporters asking for more. But he has left his critics wondering ‘why this policy, why that policy.’ And his aide looking for convincing explanations to worried residents of the state. It has indeed been a mixed bag.

First, it was demolition of structures built on government lands, which attracted some uproar from those directly affected.This was followed by evacuation of beggars from the streets.

These actions have put him at loggerheads with Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central, who viewed his actions and policies as anti-masses.

He appeared to have calmed nerves with the school feeding programme that saw enrolment jump at the onset, only for some children to come to feed and go without actually remaining in school.

Then came the Bill he sent to the State Assembly for enactment into law to curb religious preachings, which has received knocks from several quarters, particularly religious bodies, who view it as a violation of their human right.

Now, he is in the news again over government’s introduction of a fresh verification exercise that compels civil servants to fill in forms indicating if they still want to be members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) or not.

This has put the government and indeed the governor in direct confrontation with the Labour, as leaders of the affiliate bodies of the two unions gathered at the state NLC secretariat last Wednesday for an emergency meeting to brief their national leaders on the new directive.

They particularly want government to expunge the portion that states that civil servants should decide whether or not they want to belong to labour union in the new state government’s rules of engagement.

NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, and his TUC counterpart, Bobbai Kaigama, directed the workers to disregard the order by not filling the form, saying it was against International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on rights of workers, and also a deliberate attempt to destabilise unionism in the state’s public service.

But the governor, through his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, said the exercise was a continuation of the previous one that started last year and not a new one, to establish a comprehensive data.

He restated government’s respect for the right of workers to freedom of association, but added that it is democratic that those who wish to exercise this right or not should indicate in writing.

Already, Labour has given the state government an ultimatum to back down or face industrial action, while the latter has vowed to deal with any worker that refuses to fill the form or go on strike as a result of the verification exercise.

In Kaduna, these are just the few policies of El-Rufai that has touched the hearts of the people, positively or negatively, but they may not be the last, as the governor trudges on, in his characteristic manner.



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