By FAVOUR NNABUGWU
ABUJA — The Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, yesterday called on all tiers of government in the country to ensure allocation of 26 per cent annual budget to education as they celebrate 2013 May Day.
NUT, which blamed the lingering crisis in the nation’s education sector to long years of neglect and poor funding, said it became imperative for all the three tiers of government in Nigeria to begin implementation of United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO’s recommendation of 26 per cent budget to education.
Comrade Michael Alogba Olukoya, NUT President, made the call as part of activities marking May Day celebration.
He also said there would be no going back on the strike declared in 18 States of the federation on the non-implementation of the 27.5 per cent Teachers’ Enhanced Salary and N18, 000 minimum wage.
Olukoya said the effective date for the strike remained June 1, as earlier declared, listing affected states to include Benue, Cross River, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Plateau, Taraba, Borno, Kogi, Niger and Sokoto.
He said it was unfortunate that the issue of education and welfare did not always command priority attention by successive governments in Nigeria.
He added that policy flips-flops was also a major problem confronting the education sector in Nigeria.
He said: “Various governments have not taken education very serious. It has been a sort of policy summersault. Today is 6-5-4; tomorrow 6-3-3-4; day after, talking of scrapping of UTME and so and so forth. For me education should be seen as a vehicle of survival.
“Anything that is done toward education that is not good, you and I, and as nation, we are postponing our doomsday.
“It is on that note that we want to call on all State Governments, Federal and indeed Local Governments to allocate better resources in line with the declaration of UNESCO, which 26 per cent of a total income of a state, should be allocated to education.”
The NUT President said this year’s theme of May Day, 100 years of nationhood: Challenges of Development was apt and called on President Goodluck Jonathan and the 36 state governors to fix the education sector as a matter of urgency.
He said it was disheartening that unemployment had been on the rise by the day, while the nation’s universities continued to churn out unemployable graduates.
“I challenge the governments of this country, to seize the opportunity of this May Day celebration to address this sector in totality.
“In fact, we have some degree holders that are not employable. Our graduates are not employable. I think in that aspect, education should be seriously tailored to the needs of the society.
“We have been talking about 6-3-3-4, which of course have technological education. How far have we gone on it?” He said.
The NUT President also kicked against the granting of local government administration autonomy in Nigeria, arguing that they had failed in the past when similar opportunity was given to them.
Amplifying the Nigerian Comrade, the President of Zambia, National Union of Teachers, Mr. Henry Kapenda, said there was the urgent need for the leaders in the continent to prioritise education as key to achieving meaningful development.