The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Edo State Wing, has defied today (Monday)’s resumption order of Governor Godwin Obaseki by asking parents and guardians to keep their children and wards from public primary schools.
It insisted that the indefinite strike started by Edo primary school teachers on January 18 was still in force.
Edo NUT, on Sunday in a statement by its Chairman, Pius Okhueleigbe, Assistant Secretary-General Mike Itua and three other members of the executive, said the union was resolute in ensuring that freedom for displeased primary school teachers must be now or never.
The statement said Edo NUT had not called off the indefinite strike, urging the public to ignore the misinformation and propaganda of the Obaseki administration.
NUT enjoined public primary school heads, teachers, parents, pupils and the public to disregard threats, blackmail, intimidation, announcements, pronouncements and moves from any quarter, aimed at discrediting the indefinite strike.
It said none of the anti-democratic tactics of Obaseki’s administration would affect the unshakeable resolve of Edo NUT and its members in ensuring that the primary school teachers’ 10-point demands were met.
Edo NUT said: “The attention of NUT, Edo State Wing, has been drawn to some pronouncements purportedly made by the Edo State Government, with regard to the ongoing indefinite strike embarked on by public primary school teachers and school heads in Edo State since January 18.
“Obaseki’s administration, on January 29, through the Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG), Mr. Osarodion Ogie, issued a threat of ‘No Work, No Pay,’ among others, to the striking teachers, with effect from February 1.
“Ordinarily, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Edo State Wing, would not have bothered to respond to the said pronouncements, because they were directed at the ‘National Union of Teachers,’ a body unknown to the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but considering some parts of the pronouncements that bear teachers’ issues, currently in dispute between NUT, Edo State Wing and Edo State Government.
“The indefinite strike by public primary schools’ heads and teachers, which started on January 18, is still very much in force, hence on Monday, February 1, it will continue unhindered in the 18 local governments of Edo State.”
NUT called on well-meaning residents and institutions in the state to prevail on Obaseki’s administration to meet the demands of the teachers, instead of embarking on arm-twisting and deploying unproductive shenanigans.
It noted that the industrial action was to ensure better welfare and regular payment of their salaries and allowances, among other issues, thereby accusing the Obaseki administration of not demonstrating any reasonable commitment to resolve the issues presented to it.
The SSG, however, warned the state wing of the NUT and the striking primary school teachers that their failure to resume on February 1 would henceforth lead to forfeiture of their salaries and allowances.
Ogie said: “This is to inform parents, teachers and the public that public primary schools in Edo State shall resume full activities on Monday, February 1.
“Parents and guardians are expected to make their children and wards ready for resumption on this date (February 1). Government wishes to re-emphasise that all public school teachers and head teachers are required to be present in their schools. Failure to resume work will be considered forfeiture of salary, as the Edo State Government has activated the no work, no pay policy.
“Head teachers and teachers, who are desirous of staying away from work, in support of the sponsored strike by certain elements of the Edo State Wing of the NUT, are required to hand over school property in their custody to their education secretaries.
“The board is collaborating with the relevant security agencies to ensure the protection of all public schools and any willful destruction of government property will be met with criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
NUT in Edo, on January 12, directed primary school teachers and school heads to embark on an indefinite strike from January 18.
Edo Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa, a lawyer, earlier in a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Establishments, Derby Enakhimion, pleaded with the leaders of the NUT in the state to suspend the strike and give considerable time to create opportunity for Edo government to enter into dialogue with them, with a view to resolving the issues.
The State Wing Executive Council (SWEC) of Edo NUT, in an enlarged meeting, however, resolved that the indefinite strike would continue, since it had allowed the state government eight weeks to have its demands resolved, before the commencement of the strike.
The union’s leaders unanimously agreed that negotiation between Edo government and the state’s NUT would continue, while the strike would also persist.
Edo NUT insisted that Obaseki’s administration had not taken any tangible step, aimed at meeting the demands of the union.
It said: “Edo Best programme needs urgent surgical examination to determine its true state, so that the government will be able to correct the window dressing and improve on the fortunes of the programme.
“The contributory pension scheme started in Edo State in 2017. If primary school teachers are to enrol, the tier of government that will be responsible for the monthly remittance of 10 per cent to the pension account of individual teachers must have the resources to do so and to cater for the accrued gratuities’ entitlements of teachers, prior to the commencement of the scheme, as provided for in the law.
“We call for the removal of Mary Oseghale as the Acting Education Secretary of Esan Northeast Local Government Authority, as we have declared her persona non grata.”
Edo Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) supported indefinite strike by primary school teachers in the state.
It gave its nod to NUT’s strike, in a letter signed by its Acting Secretary, Barry Osaro Imade, while insisting that priority must be given to the welfare of Edo teachers by Obaseki’s administration.