By Adesina Wahab
The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, has said state governors cannot hide under the claim that education is on the Concurrent List in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and refuse to implement the new Teachers Salary Scale announced last Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The union said any governor who tries that will be frontally tackled by its members and therefore urged the governors to be ready to pay the new salary structure in their states.
This was stated by the National General Secretary of the NUT, Mike Ene, in an interview with Vanguard.
He said the union would not take any excuse from state governors who have been saying that the Federal Government could not tell them what to do regarding education as the states too have constitutional rights to legislate or draw policies regarding education without recourse to whatever the FG would do or plans to do.
Ene noted that going by available data, teachers in the employ of state governments more than triple the figures of those working in federal schools, saying if states fail to implement the new policies, majority of his members would lose out.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has fired the first bullet. When it comes to implementing the payment of the new salary structure, we know what to do. Then we will know how concurrent the Concurrent List is. The President spoke to all during the World Teachers Day and teachers, whether in the employ of state or federal government are involved.
“Nobody should come up with the excuse of there is no money to pay. There is money in this country, people are only afraid to use their intellect and get the needed results. Nigerians do excel outside the country because they are motivated to put on their thinking caps. Education remains the key to the development of our country.
“The present situation whereby some states are defaulting in paying the N30,000 minimum wage to teachers will not be allowed this time around. Already, we are beginning to engage state governors using social dialogue, but if they prove recalcitrant, we know what to do,” he said.
Asked where the union expected the state and federal governments to raise funds to meet this new obligation, Ene said it was a matter of priority.
‘ “From cradle to death, life is full of struggles. As a person, if you structure what you want to do in life, you will find out that some of your ambitions will not mean anything in the face of scarce resources and that will lead you to set priority. There is a lot of wastage in the public sector, the government should block such and accord the necessary priority to education. We are lagging behind as a nation because of the poor attention given to education,” he added.
The NUT national scribe explained that the FG was yet to come out with details of the new policies announced by the President, but suggested that the National Assembly should help give legal backing to the pronouncement made by Buhari.
“The eighth National Assembly passed a bill on the TSS and the retirement age for teachers, but it was not assented to by the President. The current National Assembly can expand the Act setting up the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN, to ensure that it is only teachers registered by the Council that can benefit from the TSS and the new retirement age.
“Also, the National Assembly can hasten the process by giving that passed bill a concurrent hearing which will not make the law to go through first and second readings,” he said.
Recall that Buhari, last Monday, during the celebration of the World Teachers Day, announced a number of goodies for teachers including new wage structure, retirement age among others.