Teachers in public primary and secondary schools in Abia have embarked on strike to protest alleged government’s failure to pay their salaries.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, schools in the state were supposed to reopen on January 9 after the Christmas and New Year holidays but resumption was postponed to January 16.
It was gathered that teachers refused to resume, insisting on the payment of their outstanding five months salary arrears.
At Ibeku High School, Umuahia and School Road Primary School, Umuahia, students and pupils, who turned up for school, were seen leaving the premises in droves.
The Principal of Ibeku High School, Ojike Kalu-Ojike, told NAN in his office that the teachers were attending a meeting over the situation.
An executive member of the state branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, however, told NAN on condition of anonymity that the teachers had proceeded on strike.
“The teachers have gone on strike to demand the payment of their salaries,” he said.
The source said that secondary school teachers were issued their salary cheques for July 2016 in December, while their primary school counterparts were just receiving theirs.
He regretted that “this is the first time teachers in Abia were paid with crossed cheques,” adding that “while some cheques cleared, many are yet to clear as I am talking with you’’.
He said that the initial resumption date was shifted to January 16 by the government with a promise that the August and September salaries would be paid simultaneously before the new resumption date.
“Today, the new date has come and we did not hear anything from the government, not even for August,” he said.
He said that teachers in Abia “are going through hell,” saying, “It has never been so bad.
“It has become increasingly difficult for Abia teachers to feed and fend for their families.
“We have cases where some of us have to withdraw our children from the university because of lack of money to pay their fees.
“One pathetic case was that of a teacher in one of the secondary schools who could not raise N60,000 acceptance fee for his son’s admission to read medicine at the state university, Uturu,” he said.
Some of the teachers, who also spoke, wondered why the state government could not deploy the N10.6 billion Abia share from the Paris Club’s refund to clear the backlog of workers’ salaries and pensions.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Education, Ikechi Mgbeoji, told NAN in a telephone interview, that he had scheduled a meeting with NUT executives on the development.
Meanwhile, private schools in the state have reopened fully for the second term.
The turnout of students and teachers was impressive in the schools visited in Umuahia North and South Local Government Areas of the state.
At Gradiel International School, Ohokobe-Afara, Umuahia, and Intellectual Giants Christian School, Government Station Layout, Umuahia, teachers were seen conducting classes.
“This is second term and fresh registrations are not usually much so we do not waste time to commence teaching and learning, ‘’ a teacher with Gradiel International said.
Abia received N10.6 billion from Paris Club refund but the government said it would set aside N5.3 billion to offset part of the arrears of workers’ salaries and pensions.
#EndSARS Protest: Sanwo-Olu Orders Closure Of Schools In Lagos
The Lagos State Government led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has ordered the closure of public and private schools indefinitely in the state.
The closure of schools in Lagos was announced in a press statement on Monday by the state’s Head of Public Affairs, Ministry of Education, Kayode Abayomi.
The statement which was titled, ‘Lagos directs students to stay at home’, quoted Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, the Commissioner for Education, as saying that the schools were shut down over “tension generated by the anti-SARS protests.”
This is coming at a time #EndSARS protests against police brutality and bad governance by Nigerian youths grounded academic activities in some schools in the state on Monday.
“A new date of resumption for all classes will be announced as soon as possible.”
NECO Shifts Exam Over #EndSARS Protest
The National Examination Council, NECO, has announced the rescheduled of one of the practical examinations supposed to hold in October till the next month.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday, October 18, by the Head, Information and Public Relations Division for the Nigerian exam body, Mr. Azeez Sani.
He announced that the Paper I Computer Studies Practicals examination which was supposed to be taken on Monday, October 19 is now delayed till November 16, 2020.
Sani revealed that the postponement is a result of the ongoing #EndSARS protests across the country, particularly the blockage of movement of transport at the entrance gate into Benin City, the Edo state capital.
He noted further that the truck conveying NECO examination materials had left its take-off point two days earlier to deliver to some states but has been held up in the ‘blockage.
FG, ASUU Meeting Over IPPIS, UTAS End In Deadlock
The meeting between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday ended in a deadlock.
Although some agreements were reached at the meeting, the meeting is set to reconvene on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, by 3.00 pm after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting for ASUU to report back on the decision of its NEC.
In a bid to end the strike, the federal government agreed to release N30billion for payment of arrears of earned academic allowance to the university lecturers.
The communiqué issued at the end of the meeting revealed that the release of N20 billion funds for revitalisation of public universities will be payable by the end of January 2021.
On the issue of Earned Academic Allowances(EAA), which had accumulated to N40 billion since November 2019, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) made a commitment to release N30 billion on or before November 6, 2020.
He said the remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022, respectively.
The communiqué also revealed that ASUU agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Wednesday, October 21, 2020.
The issue of the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) almost stalled the meeting as the federal government asked that IPPIS be allowed to operate in the interim until the test run on UTAS is concluded.
But ASUU insisted on payment of outstanding salaries on the old GIFMIS platform before full implementation of UTAS.
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