Kogi State primary school teachers may likely return to the classroom after four months of strike.
The strike action was embarked upon over the non-payment of the N18, 000 minimum wage and the non-implementation of the 27.5 percent peculiar allowance by the state government.
The plan to return to the classroom followed the agreement reached between the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and state government represented by the state Head of Service (HoS).
State Chairman of the NUT, Comrade Suleiman N. Abdullahi, who disclosed this while speaking to journalists shortly after a meeting at the Teachers’ House in Lokoja at weekend, said the union has agreed to call off the strike as government was ready to effect the 60 per cent minimum wage demand.
Abdullahi said the situation with primary school teachers in the state calls for sober reflection as the Chairman of Biometric Data Capturing and Screening Committee, Alhaji Ndamodu Ali, has insisted that there will be retrenchment of primary school teachers from 2008 till date.
He lamented that this position has completely negated what the executive secretary of the National Commission of Colleges of Education said that by 2015, basic education will need additional 1, 320 teachers.
He added that the call for the retrenchment of teachers becomes an aberration and totally unacceptable to NUT in the state.
The NUT chairman noted that the state government had agreed to pay 60 percent of N18, 000 while the balance of 40 per cent would be paid in progression from October 2013, which terminates in March 2014.
He said if by December, the government fails in its promise; he will vacate the seat as NUT chairman.
Speaking to our correspondent, Ali, who moved a motion for declaration of state of emergency in the education sector in the state, Hon. Henry Ojuola noted that his motion was not meant to criticise government but was based on the situation on ground.
Ojuola, representing Yagba East Constituency, said only recently, Kogi State was declared as the state that was most involved in examination malpractices and that five schools from the state were delisted by the examination body, noting that primary school teachers have also been on strike for past four months.
In his contribution, a Lokoja based human rights activist and Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Comrade Idris Miliki Abdul, said that he supported the call for state of emergency in the education sector to correct anomalies in the sector and that government must as a matter of urgency take adequate measure to safe primary education in the state.
Abdul urged the state government to organise an education summit, where the stakeholders will proffer solution to the perennial problem of the state.
A classroom teacher, who did not want his name mentioned, said no teacher will resume without the payment of the minimum wage of N18, 000; arguing that the teachers are tired of the government’s antics and failure to fulfill it promises. State Head of Service (HoS), Dr. Moses Atakpa, said government was sincere about the move to ascertain the number of teachers in the state, adding that the 60 per cent was to start with and that subsequently the payment of 40 per cent will follow.