Some of the over two thousand teachers sacked last year in Kwara State on Thursday stormed the governor’s office in Ilorin to protest the recruitment of new teachers to fill their positions.
The state government had in December last year sacked 2,414 teachers employed in the last weeks of the administration of former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in 2019.
The state Ministry of Education said the “Sunset teachers” were laid off because their employment contravened due process.
It also said an investigation conducted by the state government with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) found over 600 of the teachers not qualified to teach.
“The government has decided to start the employment process all over again in January 2021. The government will open a new application portal for all the 2,414 and any other eligible persons to apply for SUBEB teaching jobs in relevant subjects to be advertised. This effectively nullifies the controversial employment process of 2018/2019,” the state government had declared.
The decision was criticised by labour leaders and opposition politicians.
The chairperson of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Issa Ore, said the decision to sack such large number of workers was harsh on the affected workers, their families and dependants.
“The congress received with great shock and concern, the decision of the State Government to disengage those workers employed by the immediate past administration tagged ‘Sunset Workers’ under the guise of not qualified to take the job as teachers,” Mr Ore then said in a statement.
The government ignored the protests and has now begun fresh recruitment of teachers.
This newspaper learnt that over 80, 000 applications have been submitted and the sacked teachers are worried they may not be reabsorbed.
At about 11 a.m. on Thursday, PREMIUM TIMES reporter witnessed the sacked teachers displaying placards in front of the government’s secretariat in protest against the recruitment exercise.
One of the protesters, Abubakar Salahudeen, said the new recruitment exercise was needless.
“The population of the people in Kwara State is not 1000. It is not 2000. The number of those that have registered for the recruitment is over 80, 000. Now, tell me what is the assurance that we sunset teachers, that 90 per cent of us is going to be re-engaged?”
Mr Salahudeen disputed the claim that a large number of them were not qualified to teach.
“We are qualified teachers. We are ready for anything. The government should organise a screening for us. We have everything to prove that we are qualified,” he told journalists.
Another woman, who refused to give her name, told our correspondent that the government was not being transparent.
“We have our certificate. We are qualified. The government is lying,” she yelled.
But the spokesperson of the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, appealed to the protesters to align themselves with the new recruitment process.
“For the first time in the recent history of the state, the government is conducting an online recruitment exercise for prospective teachers, which is open to all persons that are qualified and competent. This is certain to improve the standard of basic education in Kwara State.
“We appeal to the protesters to align themselves with the transparent process which is already ongoing. There is nothing to be afraid of. The exam begins on February 22.Everyone gets their result on the same day ahead of the next stage of the exercise which is interview.
“If the process throws you up as qualified and competent, no one will deny you the opportunity to serve the state as a teacher. Insisting on a fair, transparent and thorough recruitment exercise for those who would mould our children cannot be a crime for a government elected on the mantra of change,” Mr Ajakaye said.
“No one desirous of a better public education system will want to stampede the process. Seeking to stop the process midway is like asking the government to halt the agenda to give our children the best basic education as a legacy,” he added.
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