To register their disgust over the continued complete supervision of the primary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by the six Area Councils, the FCT wing of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), yesterday stormed the secretariat of the FCT Administration.
The aggrieved teachers argued that they are not comfortable with the current arrangement, as it portends more harm than good to the growth of educational system in FCT, especially the secondary education where the unprepared children are sent, to continue their education.
Leading a large number of teachers dressed in a local uniform attire for the protest to thesecretariat of the FCT administration, in Garki, Abuja, the Chairman of FCT-NUT, Comrade Hassan Jibril said, “we are afraid of the future with our schools under the supervision of the local governments, because we are sure that they have no capacity to manage the schools.”
Delivering a protest letter to the FCT permanent secretary, Engr Obinna Chukwu, Comrade Jibril, alleged that even as the constitution had indicated that local authorities be part of maintenance/management of schools, the chairmen of the local governments have hijacked both the employment and welfare of teachers, using it to compensate their friends, families and other people for political gains.
“If local government autonomy is granted, we fear that different faces will employ in the noble profession with the passion and qualifications, and by this, the children who mostly the children of the poor will be denied basic education,” he added.
While expressing his total support for the local government autonomy, as the third tier of the government, the comrade strongly recommend that the management of primary schools be removed from the care of local government, and transferred to the state government for proper care and attention.
Similarly, the Union’s secretary, Bello Bawa Argungu, observed that though it’s a constitutional issues, but the local council Chairmen have not demonstrated interest in the welfare of teachers.
“We are against taking primary education back to the local government. We are not against the autonomy of the local governments, but we will work against it, if it will be with primary education, he insisted.”
Addressing the teachers on behalf of the FCT Minister, the FCT permanent secretary, Engr Obinna Chukwu, in company of other top officials of FCTA,who commended the teachers for expressing themselves in a peaceful manner, stressed that peaceful protest is recognised for expression of grievances.He told them that their request is a constitutional matter that requires the touch of the members of the National Assembly, who, constitutionally, makes law for the running of the FCT.
“You are aware that we don’t have our own state Assembly, so the resolution you have presented to FCTA will be duly presented to the National Assembly for proper consideration,” he explained.
Chukwu however reminded the teachers that despite the low budgetary provision for the running of the FCT, the administration has taken some significant steps towards realisation of good working conditions for the teachers.
His words: “Regarding, promotion, you can attest to the fact that we are working assiduously to complete the promotion exercise that we commenced recently and I plead for your cooperation.”
The Permanent Secretary therefore pleaded with the teachers to expect a change, especially with the plan of the FCT administration to carry out Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), with a view to ensure that over 28,000 teachers under FCT Administration are authentic employees of the Territory.