Fasehun raps FG over teachers’ strike

  • Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - By Sun News Publishing
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Founder and President of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, has thrown his weight behind striking public school teachers, saying that their demand for uniform remunerations nationwide was clearly in line with the Constitution.
Fasehun, in a statement circulated to the media at the weekend, urged the Federal Government to urgently facilitate dialogue with the teachers and other stakeholders.

He pointed out that the Constitution in Chapter II titled "Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy" _ stated in Chapter 18 (1), that "Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels."
The OPC President, who himself had a short stint teaching in a primary school, said: "Since you cannot have education without teachers, and the Constitution directs governments to guarantee equal educational opportunities at all levels, the Federal Government can comfortably promote equal remuneration for teachers nationally."

Describing as reasonable, the demand by teachers that the Federal Government should issue a circular to all levels of government about the new Teachers Salary Structure, Faseheun said: "If the Federal Government used its wisdom to institute a uniform pump price through the Petroleum Equalisation Fund to bridge the differences in haulage of petroleum products across Nigeria, if the Federal Government can push a quota system in its appointments, if the Federal Government can dictate a national minimum wage, if the salaries of local government operatives, governors and legislators are uniform nationwide, the Federal Government should have no problem sending a memo that will guide payment of salaries for public school teachers."

He added: "Teachers are bonafide members of the electorate. The fact that the NUT is a union registered with the Federal Ministry of Labour makes it a Federal institution, worthy of the recognition and attention of the Federal Government."
Faseheun noted that it was strange that the Federal Government had failed to bow to the pressure of the strike on the ground stating that not doing so violated the spirit of Federalism.
"It is strange that a Federal Government that feels no qualms making its money from VAT from Lagos and petroleum income from the Niger-Delta on the basis of Federalism will now hide behind Federalism to ignore the demand of teachers.

Why should the government begin implementing Nigeria’s elusive Federalism on the basis of teachers’ demands? Even if true that in a Federal system education is not so much the concern of the Centre, since Nigeria has refused to run a truly Federal system and government is accepting in its plate much more than it can chew, the Centre must intervene in this particular crisis that is fast spreading nationwide," he declared.

Fasehun observed that the month-long strike had dragged on for an unbearably long period and had begun to impact negatively on social life, especially that of children stressing "nobody can really pay teachers an amount commensurate with their input to societal development."

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