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Teachers’ strike: FG gets knocks for breaching constitution

Posted by By IME OLA, Lagos, OLUWOLE AKINBOYEWA, JACOB EDI, (Abuja) and GABRIEL DIKE, Osogbo on 2008/07/24 | Views: 1995 |

Teachers’ strike: FG gets knocks for breaching constitution


The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja received hard knocks for jettisoning her constitutional responsibility, capable of proffering a fair and equitable solution to the lingering teachers’ strike.

The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja received hard knocks for jettisoning her constitutional responsibility, capable of proffering a fair and equitable solution to the lingering teachers’ strike.

This is coming just as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called for the urgent intervention of President Umaru Yar’Adua to bring an end to the current impasse.
The Senate Committee on Education which met with the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Minister of Education, Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu said the lingering strike would have been unnecessary if the government had respected the letters and spirit of its legislative powers under Section 34 and 60 e of the exclusive legislative list contained in the 1999 Constitution.

The committee’s position came just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership’s meeting with the leadership of the striking teachers yielded no results.
Committee Chairperson, Senator Joy Emodi, while meeting separately with Education Minister, Aja-Nwachukwu declared that aside the fact that the crisis was painting a gloomy picture of a substandard education for Nigeria’s leaders of tomorrow, the success of the country’s anticipated "2015 education for all" and "2020 Millennium Development Goals" MDGs programmes, was in jeopardy.

Senator Emodi observed that the Federal Government, which had the power to ensure a standard of education for unity education in the country, should also fulfill a similar obligation to the states in a country where federalism vested power at the center.
She expressed regrets that the teachers’ crisis had made pupils of public schools errand children who had been forced to undertake menial jobs at a time every hand was on deck to condemn and discourage child abuse in all its ramifications.

Restating government’s hardline position on the matter, the education minister stated that government was relying on facts, logic and the constitution to deal with the situation.
He said: "The NUT branches should negotiate with their state governments.
The Federal Government is not responsible to fixing salaries but Establishments and Income, Salaries and Wages Commission."

However, in the response, the NUT delegation led by its Deputy President, Obong Ikpe Obong said all their demand was that the Federal Government issues an enabling circular for the implementation of the TSS at the federal level and leave the rest of the business to the union.
In a letter to President Yar’Adua, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) explained that what the NUT is demanding of the Federal Government has been the practice over the years in industrial relations in the Nigeria Public Sector on wage and non-wage issues, adding that the issuance of a circular to give effect to those professional allowances with respect to Federal Government teachers does not in any way imply the imposition of the terms on other tiers of government.

The letter which was signed by its Secretary General, Comrade Abduwaheed Omar, NLC president added that apart from addressing the immediate issue, it can also create the industrial framework for handling relations issues in future. It therefore urged the president "to act with decisiveness and compassion for teachers and the pupils so that classes can re-open."

Speaking with journalists after its meeting with PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC), NUT Deputy National President, Chief Onem Nelson who noted that the problem requires a political solution, if the crisis must be brought to an end, vowed that the strike would not be called off when no concrete solution is arrived at.

He appealed to the party leadership to persuade President Yar’Adua to direct the issuance of the enabling federal circular on the Teachers Salary Structure (TSS).
Meanwhile, a federal lawmaker and sub-committee member on education, House of Representatives, Hon. Kayode Idowu on Tuesday also berated the Federal Government for not acceding to the demands of the teachers.

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