President of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Michael Alogba Olukoya, has disclosed that in the next one month, indefinite strike would be declared in the 19 states where the state government are owing several months of salary.
Comrade Olukoya made this declaration after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Teachers House, Oluyole, Ibadan.
States owing teachers salaries include Benue (10 months), Ekiti (6 months), Cross River (6 months owed 1,000 teachers), Kogi (15 months with half salary being paid since 2013), Ondo (5 months), Taraba (4 months), Niger (3 months), Delta (3 months), and Oyo (3 months owed primary and secondary school teachers), Abia (5 months), Osun (paying teachers half salary for 23 months), Nasarawa (paying half salary for 18 months to primary school teachers), Plateau (half salary since 2010), Adamawa (4 months), Bayelsa (8 and a half months), Imo (paying 70% monthly salary to primary and secondary school teachers), Kwara (paying by percentage and owing 4 months), Borno (minimum wage yet to be implemented), and Zamfara (yet to implement national minimum wage).
The president condemned state governors that have failed to be transparent in their agreements with the workers’ union, calling on the state governments to ensure they use the Paris Club refund to pay the outstanding teachers’ salaries.
According to them: “We hereby give a 30-day ultimatum to all the above-mentioned States to pay all the outstanding salaries being owed the teachers. They will soon collect another Paris Club money and so we hope they will pay all the backlog of salary arrears. If any State fails to pay up within this stipulated time, we shall converge again and give a notice of action. There is going to be total disconnect between us and such governments”.
The NEC in handling down the threat on behalf of the affected member-states equally used the occasion to kick against the call for autonomy of local government councils, saying that the ghost of the effects of primary schools left in the hands of the local governments in the past had continued to haunt the teachers, leading to its near-collapse in terms of personnel, funding and infrastructural development.
He stressed that the 1999 Constitution saddles the State Governments with the responsibility of funding and managing primary schools, noting that, “local government councils only have the role of participation. It is therefore important to emphasise the need for States to be financially empowered to shoulder this responsibility effectively, and we propose that allocation from the Federation Account be reviewed upwards in favour of the States to enable them discharge this constitutional responsibility effectively”.
The Union further called for extension of years of service for teachers in the secondary and primary schools from 60 to 65 years, “just as it has been raised for teachers of Polytechnics and the Universities. This is to remove the ensuing segregation as all belong to the same teaching industry of Nigeria”, he stressed.
While supporting the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN)’s stance to ensure all teachers are formally registered to weed out quacks, the NUT boss said that “after this Friday, 16th of June, when registration closes, we are going to constitute a Task Force to picket all private and public schools including those of the Police, Army Command, Unity Schools, in order to save primary schools from imminent collapse”.