By Babajide Okeowo
While many schools in Nigeria are gearing up to return to the classrooms on January 18, 2021, the reverse is the case in Edo State as the Edo chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has chosen the same date to begin indefinite strike action.
The directive is contained in a communiqué jointly signed by the union’s state Chairman and Assistant Secretary-General, Pius Okhueleigbe and Moni Itua respectively, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Benin.
The union held that the decision was reached at end of its enlarged State Wing Executive Council (SWEC) on Jan. 12.
It hinged the directive to embark on strike on what it called the failure of the state government to meet its 10-point age-long demand.
NUT also stated that the directive was a sequel to the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum and another 14-day ultimatum earlier issued to the state government. According to the union, public primary school teachers in all the 18 local government areas of the state should embark on an indefinite strike from Jan. 18.
It, however, commended the House of Assembly Committee on Education, the Controller of Labour, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as the state council of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for their intervention. The union expressed dismay over what it called the glaring and persistent non-challant attitude of the state government, saying it had not initiated any meeting with the union on its demands while the ultimatums lasted. It urged parents to keep their children and wards away from schools throughout the period of the strike.
The union also urged school heads and parents to disregard “any propaganda, blackmail, announcements, pronouncements and intimidation against the lawful decisions of the union for the period of the strike from any quarter”.
It, however, called on all lovers of education, well-meaning citizens, and institutions in the state to prevail on the state government to meet the demands of the union.
Recall that the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had reported that the union had, on Dec. 8 and Dec. 29, 2020, issued a 21-day and a 14-day ultimatum respectively to the state government to fulfill all its financial obligations and other entitlements to its members or risk industrial action.
Recall also that some of the demands of the union include payment of the 2013 to 2015 promotion arrears of teachers in Oredo, Orhionmwon, and Uhunmwode local government areas.
Others are reinforcement and guarantee of the payment of primary school teachers’ monthly salaries on or before the 27th day of every month, as already directed by the governor.
The union’s demands also included the correct implementation of the 30 percent special allowance for teachers in schools for the challenged children and the payment of the arrears, among others.