ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIA UNION OF TEACHERS COMRADE MICHAEL OLUKOYA ON THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR IN NIGERIA ON THURSDAY 1ST FEBRUARY, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2018 SOLEMN ASSEMBLY OF NIGERIAN TEACHERS AT ABUJA

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) re-appraised recent developments in the education industry, particularly in the primary and secondary sub-sectors and expressed her concern on some of the lingering issues that call for the attention of Government and relevant authorities. The Nigerian teachers also use the instrumentality of the Solemn Assembly to place the challenges being faced by the Education Sector in the hands of God for a divine intervention and guidance for the overall good of the Education Sector, the operators, pupils, students and the Nation.

 

1.       Sacking of Teachers by Kaduna State Government. 

 

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) hereby reiterate her condemnation of the sacking of over 21,000 primary school teachers on account of the spurious claim that the teachers could not score up to 75% in a competency test that was conducted by the State Government without recourse to the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), the agency that has the statutory responsibility to regulate and control the teaching profession in all its aspects and ramifications. More so, the sacking of the teachers was carried out after the National Industrial Court sitting in Kaduna had granted an interlocutory injunction against the action.

 

We hereby express our dismay over this show of impunity and lack of respect for the rule of law and call on the Government of Kaduna State to rescind its decision and seek closer ties with relevant bodies and stakeholders and work towards amicable resolution of the issues.

 

2.       Directive on stoppage of deduction of check-off dues for Trade Unions by Kaduna State Government. 

 

The NUT takes exception to the recent directive given to MDAs by the Kaduna State Government to stop deduction of check-off dues meant for Trade Unions in the State.  This latest assault on organized labour, in our view, is a calculated attempt by the State Government to destroy Trade Unions and silence all dissenting voices in order to have a field day in implementing its anti-workers policies.

 

We wish to remind the Government of Kaduna State that the issue of check-off dues deduction is a statutory obligation placed on employers by Section 17 of the Trade Unions Act which provides thus:

 

“Upon the registration and recognition of any of

 

the Trade Unions specified in the Third Schedule

 

to this Act, the employer shall –

 

 

 

(a)   make deduction from the wages of every

 

worker who is a member of any of the Trade

 

Unions for the purpose of paying contributions

 

to the Trade Union so registered, and (1996.No.4).

 

 

 

(b)    remit the sum so deducted directly to the

 

registered office of the Trade Union, within

 

reasonable period or such periods may be

 

prescribed from time to time by the registrar.”

 

 

 

We call on the Government of Kaduna State to sheath its sword and play by the rules rather than engaging in unprogressive acts that negate all known principles of democratic governance.

 

3.       Non-payment of salaries and allowances of teachers. 

 

The Leadership of the NUT wishes to once again express our displeasure over the continued non-payment of salaries and allowances of primary and secondary school teachers in several States across the Country.  Despite our earlier call on all defaulting States to pay up the back-log of salaries and allowances owed teachers to galvanize effective academic activities in our schools in the affected States who still owe teachers’ salaries ranging from one to fourteen months, thereby subjecting teachers to untold hardship and suffering; viz:

 

1.       Abia              - Primary - 5 months, Secondary - 7 months

 

2.       Bayelsa         - Primary - 7½ months, Secondary - 3 months

 

3.       Benue           - Primary - 12 months

 

4.       Ekiti              - Primary - 9 months, Secondary - 5 months

 

5.       Kwara           - Primary - 2 months

 

6.       Ondo            - Primary - 4 months

 

7.       Taraba          - Primary - 6 months

 

8.       Delta            - Primary - 5 months, Secondary - 5 months

 

9.       Kaduna         - Primary - 5 months, Secondary - 5 months

 

10.     Osun            - Primary and Secondary - 28 months (half salaries)

 

11.     Nasarawa     - Primary - 26 months (half salaries)

 

12.     Oyo               - Primary/Secondary - 1 month

 

13.     Kogi             - Primary - 25 months

 

 

 

We call on the affected State Governments to defray the salary arrears and ensure regular payment of the salaries of teachers without further delay.

 

4.       Local Government Autonomy/Funding and Management of Primary Education. 

 

The NUT remains steadfast in its opposition to transfer of the funding and management of primary education to Local Government Councils in the name of granting autonomy to the Councils.  We restate our call for State take-over of the funding and management of the education sub-sector and payment of teachers’ salaries through first line charge from the Federation Account.

 

In this direction, we appreciate the National Assembly for the proposed constitutional amendment done in respect of the funding of primary education and appeal to all State Houses of Assembly to vote in favour of the amendment so as to ensure well defined roles by all tiers of Government in the funding and management of primary education in the country.

 

5.       The Need for Upward Review of Teachers’ Retirement Age. 

 

The NUT had made representations to the Federal Government, the National Assembly and other relevant bodies on the need to review the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years.  We hereby once again draw attention to our submission and humbly call on relevant authorities to grant our request as it will enable the school system to further benefit from the experience of these teachers as well as help to address the problem of teacher shortage facing both primary and secondary schools in the country.

 

6.       Poor Infrastructure/Lack of Instructional Materials. 

 

The school system at both primary and secondary levels is fraught with issues of dilapidated infrastructure, lack of laboratories and libraries, as well as lack of instructional materials.

 

We call on both Federal and State Governments to raise their budgetary allocations to education in order to ensure provision of adequate infrastructure and instructional materials for effective teaching and learning in our schools.

 

7.       Activities of ASUSS/Non-remittance of Check-off Dues to NUT. 

 

We are concerned about the illegal activities of the so called Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) and the tacit support given the body by some State Governments even though it is clear to all that the said ASUSS is not a registered Trade Union in Nigeria.  It is appalling to note that in addition to the seeming recognition given to this splinter group, some Governments are brazenly aiding and abetting their illegal operations by remitting check-off dues deducted from teachers to the body.

 

We wish to caution against withholding of dues deducted from members of the NUT by State Governments as that implies that the teachers have not been paid their full salaries.  May we also state that it is illegal to remit such funds to the ASUSS because the body is not statutorily empowered to operate as a Trade Union and as such not qualified to be paid check-off dues. We therefore demand that State Governments who have refused to remit check-off dues to the NUT should release such funds to the Union without further delay.

 

8.       Non-payment of Pensions and Gratuity to Retired Teachers.

 

The Union unequivocally regrets and condemned the hardship being experienced by retired teachers in some States of the Federation, where they are glaringly denied their pension and gratuity for years after rendering meritorious service to the nation.  Some of these retirees have been stricken with age and worsened by illness, occasioned by hunger sequel to non-payment of their pensions and gratuity which is a right and a component of their contract of employment.  We still uphold that retirement is the most glorious exit from service and they should not be made to regret the moral rectitude and good of sense of duty and dedication with which they have served our father land.  We therefore urge the affected State Governments to have a rethink and save the lives of these elderly and senior citizens because a worker today will certainly be a retiree tomorrow if divine providence permits.

 

In conclusion, we wish to commend the State Governments that have regularly paid salaries/allowances of teachers and provided both human and material resources needed for educational advancement, and urge them to continue in their good works. We pledge our support and commitment to work towards effective delivery of education to meet societal needs.

 

 

 

 

 

COMRADE MICHAEL ALOGBA OLUKOYA

 

NATIONAL PRESIDENT

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