By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Bayelsa State Government has urged members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT and other affiliate unions to exercise restraint over their proposed strike over the non-payment of salary of primary school teachers.
The NUT had threatened to embark on a three-day warning strike from today over unpaid nine and a half months salaries to primary school teachers in the state.
The government, through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Jonathan Obuebite, yesterday, noted with regret that teachers and non-teaching staff at the primary school level were not at par in terms of payment of salary with their counterpart at the state level.
According to the government, though the payment of the salary of primary school teachers and non-teaching staff as enshrined in the 1999 constitution is the responsibility of local governments, it blamed the development on the economic recession which according to it “is not peculiar to the councils and state.”
“The current administration on assumption of office has been shouldering 80 percent and later 60 percent of the financial responsibility of the councils in the state but due to recession and shortfall in the state allocation from the Federation Account, totally pulled out of the support given to the councils to meet there obligations.
“The payroll fraud, unauthorised employment and over bloated wage bill are other factors affecting local government administration in the state,” Obuebite said.
He added that the government had set up various committees to probe the activities of payroll fraudsters at the state and local government levels.
On the demand for new employment into the service, he said, “There are some workers that are due for retirement but they keep on falsifying their records of service so as to remain longer in the civil service. This act cannot be condoned.
“Also, we have a situation in Bayelsa State where some schools have very few students with outrageous number of staff. There is a particular school with one headmaster and teacher but with no fewer than 75 non academic staff. This is nothing but fraud.
“Since, assumption of office, we have never and will not tamper with councils allocation. This has been attested to by various committees set up by the Federal Government and even Senate Standing Committee on Local Government Administration.
“This administration is committed to the welfare of its workforce including teachers. Of recent some teachers were promoted to the level of permanent secretaries. This has never happened in the history of the state.”