By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The announcement by the Lagos State government towards the end of last week that school children should resume at their schools on Monday this week as primary and secondary school teachers were not on strike gave the impression that the state government had managed to forge an amicable settlement with its teachers who started a strike action two weeks earlier over the non-payment of the 27.5% Teachersâ€™ Special Allowances.
But situation of things at the stateâ€™s public primary and secondary schools on Monday this week revealed that the teachers are far from being ready to go back to classrooms as members of the talk and chalk profession have vowed to keep the schools under lock and key until they are paid the enhanced 27.5% Teachers Special Allowances.
The teachers are particularly irked that the Fashola-led administration has failed to implement the pay rise despite the fact that it was incorporated into the state Appropriation Budget for year 2009, adding that states like Ondo, Kwara and Ekiti among others, which have implemented the wage increase, are not as wealthy as Lagos State.
To the teachers, the Fashola-led government is not doing enough to address the rot in the education sector. The chairman of the state wing of the NUT, Comrade Idowu Samson Kayode says: â€œOur (NUT) national officers see Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola as altruistic but teachers could assume they are not his favourites. We are not even seeking favouritism but fairness and justice, where an agreement has been reached. We cherish his administration but we cannot love the governor more than ourselves because it is even unscriptural.â€
Kayode continues: â€œIf we pay lip service to education and see the concept as limited to building structures alone and fail to see the education project holistically, with the need to pay the teachers who are the managers well, can we achieve the global desire?â€
Although the officials of the teachersâ€™ umbrella body at the national and state levels have been meeting with the state government over the pay rise, the latter is yet to make a categorical statement on when it would pay the allowances.
The state government maintained this posture at a meeting it had with some executive members of the national body of NUT on September 17, 2009.
According to Samson Kayode, the state government is giving the impression that it will include the allowances in next yearâ€™s Appropriation Budget, adding that teachers are not going to be deceived to call off the strike until the state government issues a circular on when it will pay the money.
He decried the threat by the state government to sack the teachers if they refuse to resume work, explaining that employing arm-twisting tactic negates the democratic dispensation in the country.
â€œWe have been pushed to the brick-wall. Our demand is not a mountain that cannot be climbed or a mission that cannot be accomplished by the state government if there is the willingness. Teaching has been professionalized and our demand merely encapsulates the perks or pecuniary substance of our job. The next line of action is to put our destiny in our hands and fight till the last man standingâ€, says the NUT chairman.
The current demand for pay rise by teachers in many states of the federation emanated from the agreement between the 36 state governors and the NUT on August 6, 2008 to implement 27.5% Teachersâ€™ Special Allowances. The failure by many state governors to implement the agreement have triggered off a series of strike actions by members of the NUT.
On July 3rd, 2009, the National Executive Council ofÂ NUT directed teachers in states where the allowances are not paid by September 1, 2009 to embark on an indefinite strike.
Right now, teachers in some states are on strike to press for the implementation of the agreement, an ugly scenario which is playing out at a time the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are also on strike over an agreement it reached with the Federal GovernmentÂ in 2006.