Hundreds of teachers, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) stormed the Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), in Area 11, Garki, yesterday held a protest, demanding to be left out of the proposed Local Government autonomy.
Chairman, NUT FCT chapter, Comrade Knabayi Stephen, who spoke the during the protest at the main entrance of the FCT Administration Secretariat, reiterated their decision to be left out of the Local Government autonomy.
He said demand was a common position of the NUT national executive council (NEC) taken at its meeting held on April 24, 2017, in Kaduna State.
“This has become imperative as the Supreme Court of Nigeria in its 2002 judgment, in the case of AG Federation Vs AG of the 36 States held that the responsibility of providing and managing primary education in the country obviously lies with the State Government.
“Against this background, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Union of Teachers has re-directed all its state wings including that of the FCT to carry out a solidarity rally rejecting the so called autonomy.
“It would be recalled that between 1990 and 1994 when Primary Education came under the control of the Local Government, the school system witnessed poor funding and total neglect which led to industrial crises because the LG Councils failed to primary education the priority of place it deserved,” he stated.
He further regretted that “Despite an increase in allocation to the Local Government Councils from the Federation Account by 5 percent to enable the Councils play their participatory role in assisting the state Governments to pay salaries of primary school teachers, the teachers were denied salaries for several months, in some cases for over 12 months.”
According to Knabayi, another propelling factor for opting out of the autonomy, “failure by the LG Councils to contribute their mandatory 15 percent of the teachers’ emolument to the pension fund meant for the payment of the teachers’ pension and gratuities”, thereby “allowing the school system to deteriorate to the state of dysfunction and near collapse.
Explaining that “in a bid to address the deplorable situation, the FG has established national primary education committee (NPEC) and effected payment of the salaries of teachers through the Commission from education, as first line charge, from the Federation Account”, he noted that “the development brought stability to the system but could not stand the test of time”.
However, the NUT Chair stated that the NUT was “not totally against Local Government autonomy if that is what Nigerians believe would bring development to all nooks and crannies of the country
“The Union is concerned about the likelihood of scrapping the state Joint Local Government Account which would mean taking primary education back to the dark pre-1994 era.”
He decried a situation where “primary school teachers were owed salaries for months in a number of states ostensibly due to the inability of the Councils to provide the funds needed for payment of the salaries, thereby creating a situation of demoralization and hopelessness amongst the teachers.”
The NUT Chairman commended the FCT Administration under Malam Muhammad Musa Bello for giving priority attention to education and the many achievements the sector has recorded so far.
Responding, Director, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Udoh Samuel Atang, who addressed the teachers on behalf of the Administration commended them for a peaceful protest and promised to relay their demands to the appropriate quarters, expressing hope that they would be addressed dispassionately.