Salary Arrears: Kwara teachers protest, threaten strike


…protesters sponsored by opposition – SUBEB Chair

By Mathew Dennis and Mike Adeyemi

Primary and secondary school teachers across the 16 Local Government Areas of Kwara State, on Tuesday, protested four months unpaid salaries and threatened not to resume on Monday, if they are not paid.

The teachers, who went round major streets in Ilorin, the state capital, including Post Office, Unity and Ibrahim Taiwo road, said the protest became necessary as 10 of their colleagues lost their lives because they could not afford their medical bills.

They listed the dead to include; Mrs Oyedepo Funke (Asa LG); Mrs Bola Ajeigbe (Ilorin South); Isaiah Adio and Akanni Kareem (Moro); Abdulrahman Imam (Ilorin West), among others.

Speaking, the spokesman, Mallam Abubakar Abdulwahab said, “We have been patient enough. Our people are dying. How do you expect a hungry teacher to go to the class and discharge his duties effectively?

“We heard that President Muhammadu Buhari gave out Paris Club bailout to the states. The President later said to the governors, ‘I wonder why you governors can sleep with all eyes closed while your workers are dying of hunger’.

“Kwara SUBEB teachers have turned to beggars. We implore the Kwara State Governor, and the Senate President to come to our aid. If they do not pay us, we will not resume academic activities.”

Speaking further, Abdulwahab said since 2010 the teachers received two promotion letters without any increment in salary to correspond with their new status.

“It is as if they do not have blood in their veins. We are tired. We are supposed to resume by September 17. But if they do not pay us, we are staying at home and no one can force us to resume,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Kwara State branch, Comrade Musa Abubakar has faulted the approach of the protesting teachers saying they should have communicated their grievances to the appropriate quarters through dialogue.

Speaking with our reporter on Tuesday, Abubakar said, “I was told yesterday that some of our teachers demonstrated as a result of poor welfare from the state government. They also said that NUT is not doing anything about it. Well, it’s unfortunate that such call is coming from our teachers.

“To the best of our knowledge as leaders of this great Union, we have the responsibility to guarantee the welfare of our members. We have tabled the issues mentioned by them to the government during our last meeting.

“And we resolved that new situation demands new strategies. In the past, we use industrial action to threaten the government but we believe that the situation at hand calls for other civil approaches to resolve some of these issues. And one of those instruments to use is to lobby and get things done.

The NUT Chairman stressed that through dialogue the state government through the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) recently shortlisted some teachers for promotion interview.

He however called on his colleagues to always crosscheck facts either with the NUT branches or state Secretariat before embarking on any action.

When contacted on telephone, last night, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Abdulkareem Lambe alleged that the protesters were being sponsored by opposition parties.

Lambe who spoke with our reporter from Abuja said, the protest was illegal and unconstitutional as the due process of agitation was not followed.

“It is the NUT that has right to lead and declare any protest. Those protesters were being sponsored by opposition parties in the state and that is why they did not carry the NUT which is the umbrella body of teachers in the state, along,” he alleged.

The SUBEB boss however added that the state government is already working on clearing the salaries backlog of the teachers, soon.

“The NUT knows this, and the reason the union didn’t partake in the said protest,” he said.

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