By Alfred Agudiebube
Every Government owned primary and secondary schools in Abia State have been under lock and key for six days now following the inability of the state government to offset secondary school teachers 10 months salary arreas and their primary school colleagues Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) allowance.
Naijawatchdog gathered that the secondary school teachers in the state went on strike on Monday because they are owed as much as 10 months’ salary arrears, while their primary school colleagues joined the same strike because of the non-payment of their TSS allowance.
Our reporter who visited some of the primary and secondary schools within Aba metropolis and its environs reports that all the schools were under lock and key as both teachers and students deserted the school premises.
Some teachers who spoke anonymously to our reporter faulted the Abia State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), for telling newsmen on Monday that the strike has been called off.
They accused the NLC leadership led by Comrade Uchenna Obigwe of conniving with government to place them under perpetual poverty and hunger which they said have become synonymous with them of recent.
Meanwhile, efforts made to reach the leadership of the state chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers proved abortive as the chairman’s mobile phone was switched off for days.
When contacted, the state NLC Chairman, Comrade Obigwe, denied Labour’s connivance with the state government to tricked teachers back to classrooms on empty stomach.
Obigwe however, described the inability of the NUT leadership to speak with the media on the matter as cowardice, stressing that the NUT leadership were present at the meeting held with the government last week’s Sunday concerning the teachers.
He said: “Labour cannot collude with government to call off strike. It was a mutual agreement on Sunday and their leaders were there at the meeting, they didn’t talk.
“The governor said he cannot bring out N1.5 billion to offset teachers issue and teachers will still go on strike. Let them say their side of the story and stop hiding. Their hiding means cowardice.
“The governor with his Head of Service and the Financial Coordinator, myself and the executive of the NUT met on Sunday.
“They canvassed their problems and the govern- ment said that they have already released N1.5bn, that is to say, N250,000,000 for those who were not paid for the month of August last year, N800,000, 000 for September and October.
“Then government said they’ll be paying on interval of two months to knock out their salary arrears. And equally government formed a committee to look into other challenges reported in their grievances including illegal taxation on them and nonpayment of leave allowances.”
FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH