By Mohammed Muktar Umar, Bauchi
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi state has said that his administration will not support any constitutional amendment that would jeopardise primary education and public primary school teachers. This, he said, was in line with his administration’s commitment to improving teachers’ welfare and the education sector in general that 20 % of the 2016 and 2017 budgets were allocated to education,
The Governor, apparently referring to the constitutional amendments embarked upon by the National Assembly to give autonomy to Local Government Councils in the country, stated this receiving the Nigeria Union of Teachers on peaceful demonstration to the Government House.
The teachers were on a peaceful demonstration against the proposed transfer of public primary school teachers’ salaries to local government councils in a constitutional amendment bill.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Bello Shehu Illelah, Governor Abubakar explained that the state government has embarked on massive renovation of schools, capacity building of teachers to raise the standard of primary education system in the state.
He therefore assured the teachers that the administration was going to do all it takes to ensure the future for the younger generation, and that nothing is done to reverse the gains being made to reinvigorate this very important sector.
National President of the Union, Comrade Michael Alogba Olukoya, commended the state government for partnering with the federal and local government in the implementation of the universal basic education programme.
Olukoya, who was represented by the state chairman of the union, Comrade Danjuma Saleh, recalled that between 1990 and 1994 when primary education was under the control of local governments, the school system witnessed poor funding and total neglect which led to industrial crises.
He lamented that in spite of increase in the allocation to the local government councils from the Federation Accounts by 5% to enable them play their participatory role in assisting the state governments to pay the salaries of primary school teachers, the teachers were denied salaries for months.
The NUT President said local government councils also failed to contribute their mandatory 15 % the teachers’ emoluments to the pension and gratuities, and the school system was allowed to deteriorate to the state of dysfunction and near collapse. Olukoya explained that sanity was only restored to the primary education system when the Federal Government established the National Primary Education Commission, and effected the payment of salaries of teachers through the Commission from deduction, as first line charge, from the Federation Accounts.
He said that teachers were on a peaceful protest to affirm their support to local government council autonomy, but opposed any plan in the amendment that places the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries under autonomous local government system.