By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti—Teachers in Ekiti state, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, yesterday, stormed the streets of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, to protest the inclusion of primary school administration in the proposed autonomy of local governments.
The teachers who gathered at the Awedele junction as early as 8 am, armed with placards of various inscriptions, such as ‘LG autonomy is perpetual slavery for primary education’, ‘Don’t enslave primary education with LGs’ autonomy’, ‘Foundation of primary education in Nigeria is under threat with proposed LG autonomy’, ‘No to LG autonomy with primary school funding’ and ‘Once beaten, twice shy, no marriage of primary schools with LGs’.
They moved through the streets, chanting solidarity songs, as they headed for the State House of Assembly, where they were received by the lawmakers, led by the Speaker, Hon. Kola Oluwawole.
Speaking through its chairman, Mr. Samuel Olugbesan, NUT warned of serious consequences of ceding the administration of primary schools, including payment of salaries and allowances of teachers in primary schools to councils, should they eventually be given autonomy.
Olugbesan explained teachers were not opposed to the agitation for the independence of the LGs, clarifying “We are not opposed to LG autonomy, but if this will make the LGs take over primary education administration, we reject it.”
According to him, if the councils eventually won independence, the administration of primary schools should become the responsibility of either the federal or state governments, noting only this could assure the teachers of prompt payment of their salaries and allowances which he said was currently suffering.
Addressing the lawmakers, Olugbesan said: “We have come to tell the whole world that teachers must be respected, listened to and loved, and the time is now. We have heard that some people are working for the independence of the local governments. We are not opposed to this. But we reject the autonomy if teachers would be put under the councils.
“There was a time house owners were refusing to let out their houses to teachers. This was a period the LGs owed teachers about 30 months salaries and allowances. Things were so bad that no one could be proud of being a teacher.
“You can afford not to have polytechnic or university education. Someone can decide not to obtain other qualifications after the primary school. Primary education is basic and fundamental. We must respect the teachers. We want to send you to the governor who we know love and appreciate teachers not to do anything that will enslave the teachers,” Olugbesan said.