The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, yesterday, threatened to embark on an indefinite strike if its members were left under local structure for salary payment and other benefits.
Speaking at a briefing, national President of NUT, Comrade Michael Olukoya, stressed the union’s resolve to stay away from the classroom if the government would leave primary school system under the local government.
The position by the teachers’ union was in view of a proposal by the National Assembly granting local government autonomy in the ongoing constitutional review.
The leadership of the NUT argued that most local governments were not viable to promote primary education and often maltreated their members, stressing that if primary education was not detached from the local governments, it would be disastrous for the development of the nation’s primary school system.
“The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, cannot afford to close its eyes against the approaching darkness that could soon envelope the country in the event of abolition of Local Government Joint Account where no alternative platform for stable primary education in Nigeria which would guarantee regular payment of primary school teachers’salaries.
“The union has resolved to stay off the school system as from the beginning of the next academic session as a temporary measure to secure the education of the less privileged, constituting the masses of the population of this country. To be forewarned is to be fore armed.
“We must, however, appeal to the 36 Houses of Assembly in the states to throw out any semblance of abolition of local government Joint Account and establish its right of oversight over the local governments.” Olukola said.
The union stated that it would no longer remain under the local government structure if it was granted autonomy.
“NUT has a responsibility and constituency, we are looking at the autonomy on the transfer of resources from the federal account, and we are against the treatment from the local governments, and we cannot stand akimbo and watch this happen to us. We do not want our primary education to further worsen.
“We want the primary school system to be removed from the local government even though they were granted autonomy and return us to the federal system we were in the past. If the House of Representatives will say let primary school education remain under local government it will be calamitous.
“Local governments lack the capacity and ability to pay our members and finance primary education, and our members were treated as slaves. It is very clear in the constitution that primary education is the responsibility of the state government, while local government should participate and not for local government to be responsible for payment.
“As we are affiliate to Nigeria Labour Congress, so is it with Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, and NLC is looking at local government autonomy from a holistic point o0f view because they want national resources to come them directly, but we are looking at the autonomy on transfer of resources. We are talking about the way and manner local government manage resources, and in the past have negatively affected our members,” Olukoya stated.
He therefore appealed to the National Assembly to retain the State Joint Local Government Accounts or transfer the responsibility for the payment of salaries of primary school teachers to the state government.
“It is concomitant restructuring of the fiscal structure of our national resources in favour of the States to guarantee uninterrupted and unfettered primary education in Nigeria,” he stated.