Teachers Protest in Ekiti As NLC Braces for War With Governors

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

Some secondary school teachers in Ekiti State, Western Nigeria, have protested the non-payment of their seven months salaries by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in the state.

The teachers, numbering around 500, were however, recruited in September 2018 at the tail end of former Governor Ayodele Fayose’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration. They are appealing to Governor Kayode Fayemi to end their plights.

This is happening as the organised labour on Thursday warned that no state wing of labour movement will accept any renegotiation for downward review of the already signed minimum wage law of N30,000 from any state governor.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba, made the declaration in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital, while presiding over the election of new leadership of NLC in the state.

While stating that the Nigerian workers were under strict instructions not to accept any minimum wage less than N30,000 from the governors, Wabba said the new minimum wage had become binding, having been approved by the two chambers of the National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that the excuses by some governors that they could not pay the new wage was an afterthought and therefore untenable.

At the state NLC delegates conference, where the former Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, Ekiti State University Branch, Olatunde Kolapo, was elected as the new state chairman, Wabba insisted that the new wage would not be compromised under any guise.

Kolapo emerged unopposed among other executive members that were elected.

Wabba, whose address was delivered by an Ex-officio member of the Congress, Maureen Onyia-Ekwuazi, said the Congress will not take anything short of N30,000 as minimum wage from state governors since it had become “a law binding on everybody”.

“Once the minimum wage bill has been signed by President Buhari it has become a law and we won’t allow any governor to circumvent the law What we asked for was a living wage and we cannot allow anybody to shortchange our members,” he said.

Wabba urged the new labour leaders in the state to be resolute and committed in the struggle for improved welfare of their members, saying that should be done without compromise.

Performing the opening ceremony, Governor Fayemi, who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Biodun Omoleye, promised the readiness of state government to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, pointing out that the newly elected leadership of the trade unions in the state will be invited soon for a meeting on the modalities for the payment.

In the mean time, the embattled teachers, spoke at Ikere Ekiti where they gathered for the protest, lamenting that their efforts to get the attention of the government had not been successful, alleging that “no concrete step has been taken to either pay us or dialogue with us.”

Bayo Omoyeni, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said “letters were written to the Governor, the wife, the Deputy Governor and some traditional rulers, urging them to intervene and end the untold hardship being experienced by the teachers.”

Omoyeni, who debunked allegations that the affected teachers were politicians, said, “We are youths of Ekiti State seeking employment and were given employment by the previous administration and it is trite that government is a continuum.

“We went through interview and letters of employment were given to us. Not only that, we were deployed to various schools in the state to work. Up till today, there has been no correspondence with us by the present government. The governor should save us from psychological trauma by meeting with our representatives. Our people are having problems with their landlords in their areas of postings,” he said.

Reacting, Education Commissioner, Foluso Daramola, said government was concerned by the plight of this category of teachers, saying that the committee set up to look into the circumstances of their employment had almost concluded their work.

Daramola said, “the government is concerned about their plight in the sense that they are equally Ekiti indigenes. Ordinarily if this government does not have human face, such a last minute employment would have been ignored, adding, “but the governor said these people are his people. So everything must be done on its own merit. That is why they set up a high powered committee headed by the Deputy Governor,” the commissioner said.

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