By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€”A primary school teacher has allegedly hanged himself in Obudu Local Government when his name appeared amongst the 924 teachers who were thrown out of job last week by the Cross River State Government in a massive downsizing.
The teacher, a father of four, (names withheld), was said to have put in about 17 years of service and was caught off balance in the retirement gale, which has been blamed on the alleged biting effect of the delisting of the state from the league of oil producing states and the â€œunbearable huge wage bill of teachers and the entire civil serviceâ€.
Vanguard gathered that the mass sack has pitched the stateâ€™s â€œUnion of Teachersâ€ against the state government; vide an ultimatum of 21 days, â€œwith effect from 24th February, 2010 to rescind the decision to forcefully retire teachersâ€, or face an unpleasant consequences from the women and men.
But the government traced its action to an exercise of four years ago, to the effect that the teachers were â€œcompulsorily retiredâ€ because of a â€œjoint screening exercise carried out by the Ministry of Education and the state Universal Education Board in the 1st quarter of 2006â€.
In the letter CR/SUBEB/S/6034/Vol.1V/36 dated 15th February but made available to the individual 924 teachers, last week and signed by board secretary, Sir Anthony A. Bisong, the government said the teachers were being â€œretired from service with effect from 1 April 2010.
The government also said in the letter that the teachers had to go in view of the fact that â€œyou were unable to meet the expected basic performance level set by the board; I am therefore directed to inform you that your services are no longer required by the Cross River State Governmentâ€.
Rejecting the position of the government, the union said it was â€œsurprised and embarrassed by the premature retirementâ€ of the teachers in an era when â€œevery effort was being put in place to reposition the education system.
The sudden retirement of such a number of teachers can degenerate or worsen the educational systemâ€, stating that, â€œthe union views the failure or inability of the ministry of education and the state Universal Basic Education Board to properly advice the state government on this matter as a show of incompetence.”