Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has accused his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, of inciting the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to disrupt economic activities in Kaduna State.
The NLC and its affiliate unions shut down major economic activities in Kaduna earlier this week in response to the Kaduna State Government’s mass sacking of civil servants, causing tensions between labour leaders and Mr El-Rufai.
Messrs El-Rufai and Ganduje, both members of the same political faction, the APC, have been embroiled in a political feud for some time.
When the now-suspended strike began on Monday, basic services including power, banks, and markets were shut down as protesters were led by the NLC down major streets in Kaduna.
Mr El-Rufai, who maintained that his government would not reverse its decision, declared NLC President Ayuba Wabba wanted for economic sabotage.
“Ayuba Wabba and others from the NLC Headquarters have been declared wanted under the Miscellaneous Offences Act for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure. Anyone who knows where he is should contact the Kaduna State Government’s Ministry of Justice. There will be a substantial reward!” The governor made the announcement on Twitter.
Thugs stabbed and stoned demonstrators gathered at the NEPA roundabout in Kaduna’s capital city on Tuesday, turning the demonstration into a bloodbath.
Mr Wabba accused the state governor of sending thugs to attack demonstrators with stones and guns.
“Today is a very sad day in the history of Nigerian democracy. We received reliable information this morning that El-Rufai has hired one Alhaji Hassan and some thugs to come and attack us.
“They came when we were here, but thank God we chased them away because we have the number. We are not thugs, and we are not employing thugs; we are Nigerian workers,” Mr Wabba said on Channels Television.
However, in the audio obtained by Peoples Translator Nigeria News, Mr El-Rufai reiterated the chairman’s allegation of sending thugs, adding that he believed they should have neutralised the demonstrators.
“No one wants to face the union. Ganduje is funding the whole thing, so I’m the only poor politician in Nigeria. They arrived from Kano. When they arrived in Kano, they were paid and came here,” the governor explained.
While it is unclear why Mr El-Rufai accused Mr Ganduje of supporting the protest, the two have a long history of public and private feuding over party and governance issues.
Mr Ganduje’s friendship with former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, whom Mr El-Rufai has publicly chastised on many occasions.
Mr El-Rufai also disagreed with Mr Ganduje over the deposition of his associate, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as Emir of Kano.
Mr El-Rufai rescued the deposed emir from Awe, a town in the backwaters of Nasarawa State where he had been exiled by the Kano State government.
Mr El-Rufai then named Mr Sanusi as Chancellor of the state university, shortly after appointing him to the board of the Kaduna Investment and Promotions Agency (KADIPA), a step seen as a slight on Mr Ganduje.
The governors have also engaged in public debate about instability and the expulsion of Almajiris as a result of COVID-19 between the two neighbouring states.