Primary school teachers in Edo State on Monday stayed away from public schools as directed by the the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state, despite a restraining court order.
The Edo State Government on Monday secured the restraining order from the National Industrial Court in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The teachers are on an indefinite strike over what they described as “the state government’s failure to meet its 10-point age-long demands.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the demands include payment of the 2013 to 2015 promotion arrears of teachers in Oredo, Orhionmwon, and Uhunmwode local government areas of the state.
The teachers also want a guarantee that they would get their salaries on or before the 27th day of every month as already directed by Governor Godwin Obaseki and the correct implementation of the 30 percent special allowance for teachers in schools with special pupils and all the arrears paid, among others.
The Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie, had earlier ordered teachers in public primary schools and school heads to resume academic activities on Monday or risk forfeiture of salaries.
There were no teachers found in most of the public primary schools in Benin City visited by a PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter on Monday.
Some officials of the local education authority and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) were sighted addressing pupils in some of the schools.
At Ogbe Primary School, off Airport Road in Benin City, for instance, the school gates were shut, while a few pupils were seen loitering the area until officials of the Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) arrived and forced the gate open to allow pupils into the empty school premises.
About 20 pupils were led into a classroom by an official said to be from the local education authority.
Also at Asoro Primary School, along Sakponba Road, a PUWOV officer was standing by the gate while a classroom was opened for pupils with a woman attending to them.
The woman did not identify herself, whether she was a teacher or a SUBEB official.
At Emokpae Model Primary School, along Mission Road, four women suspected to be teachers were sighted at the school, while pupils were seen in two classrooms.
At Agbado Primary School, along Akpakpava Road, there were no pupils. Three officials, apparently from SUBEB and the local education authority, were seen in the school.
The officials said they were on the ground, waiting for the pupils to resume.
At Igbesamwan Model Primary School, off Akpakpava Road, four education officials said they attended to a few pupils that were present in the school.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Ogie, was sighted at Emokpae Model Primary School, apparently assessing the teachers’ compliance to the state government directive on school resumption.
Mr Ogie, who spoke to a few teachers, urged them to carry on with their duty.
Mr Ogie told the teachers it was not a crime for some of their colleagues to protest, but that it was also not right for the protesters to deprive others of carrying out their duty.
“I am here to ensure that nobody disturbs you. Anybody has a right to protest or agitate, but you cannot ask others that are ready to work not to work,” he said.
Teachers in public primary schools in other parts of the state such as Auchi, Owan East, Ovia South- West, Ovia North-East local government areas complied with the NUT stop-work directive.
At Azama Primary School, Jattu, the head teacher was not on duty, only one teacher was present at 10 a.m.
It was the same situation at Ebienafe Primary School in Auchi where pupils were seen loitering the school premises.
At Omogba Primary, Uzairue, the pupils were already on their way home by 11a.m. when the chairman of the local government council visited the school, as there were no teachers present to coordinate their affairs.
The council chairperson, Imonofi Inusa, said he was not happy with the development. “I have told the security agencies to go round and check that the schools’ properties are intact and that nobody should tamper with them,” he said.
“My message to the teachers is that by tomorrow if they fail to report to the school, we shall know the necessary action to take,” he added.
Assistant Secretary-General of NUT, Edo State, Mike Modesty-Itua, described the strike as a “total success” across the 18 local government areas in the state.
Mr Modesty-Itua, who commended teachers for the compliance, urged them to remain resolute in the “fight for freedom” until otherwise directed by the union.
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