By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—EDO State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, has joined its counterparts nationwide to demand that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries should be on first-line charge of the Federal Government.
The position of the teachers is coming on the heels of renewed agitation for local government autonomy, which the teachers insisted will leave the payment of the salaries of teachers in the hands of local government councils and pose danger in the handling of primary education in the country.
The demand of the teachers is contained in a statement by the state Chairman and acting Secretary of the union, Loggle Iyalomhe and Mike Itua, in Benin City, yesterday, during the teachers’ protest march along major streets to Edo State House of Assembly and Government House.
According to the teachers, “Primary education received its best attention during the operation of first-line charge policy by the Federal Government when the emoluments of primary school teachers were deducted from the Federation Account and given to NPEC for payment of the teachers’ salaries, beginning from 1992 – 2002.
“If this system can be re-introduced, the teachers will have no cause to worry over the autonomy of local governments and the retention or non- retention of state Joint Local Government Accounts.
“The concern of the NUT is not the issue of local government autonomy. We believe that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which vests the onus of funding and management of primary education on the states while the local governments participate as interpreted by the Supreme Court should be upheld.
The teachers lamented that payment of primary school teachers’ salaries and allowances as well as retirement benefits to retirees was not in the priority list of politicians at the LGAs level, adding that teachers were owed arrears of salaries up to one year and above in some states of the country by those running the councils.
The Union also emphasized the need for states to be financially empowered to shoulder the responsibility of paying the salaries of primary school teachers and called for the review of the Federation Account upwards in favour of the states to enable them discharge this constitutional responsibility effectively.