Nigerian teachers reject financial autonomy for local governments

The Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, has said that the abolition of joint accounts between states and Local Governments, would be a disaster to the nation’s education.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, the NUT president, Michael Olukoya, said a proposed amendment to the constitution to scrap the account, would be a disaster.

Mr. Olukoya said between 1990 and 1994 when primary Education came under the control of the local governments, primary schools were close to collapsing, as salaries were constantly owed and funds were not made available for the running of primary schools.

He stated that even after allocation to local governments was increased from 15 to 20 percent, the situation did not improve.

“Unfortunately, primary education was never in the priority list of the Local Government Councils as virtually all of them resorted to owing the teachers their salaries for upwards of six to 12 months continuously,” he said.

He added that the situation attracted incessant strikes from the deprived teachers which lead to a near-collapse of Primary Education in Nigeria.

“The after effect of that near collapse is still hunting the entire education sector of Nigeria up till date. That period was also the era when all the Local Government Councils failed to contribute its mandatory 15% of the teachers’ emolument to the pension fund meant for the payment of pensions and gratuities of primary school teachers,” he explained.

Mr. Olukoya said it is worrisome that when the federal and state governments are focusing on how to fix the entire education system in Nigeria and reverse the exodus of children to Ghana, South Africa and many other countries, the abolition of the joint account, which could reverse every gains made, is also being considered.

“It is therefore our prayers that members of State Houses of Assembly would use all the legitimate and diplomatic powers at their beck and call to ensure the maintenance of the status quo as a way out of future gloom and bleak of education of the Nigerian child,” he added.

Mr. Olukoya added that if the Joint Account must be scrapped then the responsibility for the payment of salaries of primary school teachers should be transferred to the State Government in conformity with the Supreme Court Judgment.

“We strongly demand that the State Joint Local Government Account be maintained,” he said.

The union proposed that allocations to states from the Federation Account should be reviewed upwards in favour of the states.

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