Primary and secondary schools teachers in Imo State have threatened to go on strike following the failure of the state government to pay them for six months.
The development has cast doubt on the planned reopening of schools in the state.The Federal Government had ordered the closure of all schools following a rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
Imo is one of the states planning to reopen schools after seeing a drop in the numbers of new infections.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Philip Nwansi, who spoke to reporters in Owerri, on Wednesday, expressed the union’s disappointment that Governor Hope Uzodinma had failed to honour his promise to pay them after meeting with the leadership of the body months ago.
“Up till the first week of September, the salaries of about 2,000 teachers have not been paid for about seven months,” Nwansi said.
“In Ngor Okpala Local Government Area, no primary school teacher has received salary since March this year. In Owerri West and other local government areas teachers are yet to receive their salaries.
“There is no way you can convince me that what is holding their salaries is BVN (Bank Verification Number) and the banks. We cannot believe that. You cannot tell me that the documents of all teachers in Ngor Okpala are wrong.
“What we’re saying is that if every teacher does not get their salary up to date and if the union does not get its dues checkoff, there is no possibility of schools reopening in Imo State.”
The NUT chief claimed that the state government had been remitting the automatic checkoffs of teachers to the union despite the union had not been functioning since March.
Nwansi said: “If we don’t react, our members will never have full confidence in us anymore. They’ll think that we’ve compromised.
“We have romanced with the government by doing whatever they asked us to do. They brought forms and asked us to help them and we employed workers to make sure that the forms were filled in by those the government felt had problems.
“The day we told our members that there were problems, our secretariat could not contain them. This goes to show that there are no ghost teachers in Imo State. There is no way you can pay somebody salary and that person comes back to say you are owing them.”
Nwansi, who appealed to the state government to pay them without further delay, said many of the teachers were passing through hard times.
“But, I want to encourage those teachers that nobody can sack them. They should continue to have patience,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government has approved the gradual resumption of schools.
In a statement, the Ministry of Basic Education Permanent Secretary, Nwankwo Nwabueze, said it was one of the decisions taken at the State Executive Council meeting.
Nwabueze said: “The third term is quite short and we expect schools to make maximum use of the time. We have to continue to teach our children at home through the various e-platforms, including the Anambra State Teaching on Air.
“These platforms shall be continued as we do a phased reopening of schools and watch the health implications.
“We enjoin parents to provide hand sanitisers and face masks for children.”
According to the statement, Junior Secondary School (JSS) 3 students will resume on September 7 as the third term begins on September 14 and ends on October 23.
It added that the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which began on August 17 would end on September 12.
The ministry said the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) starts on September 21 and ends on October 15.
“ Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination will take place on September 12,” Nwankwo said.