All Primary And Secondary Schools In Abia Closed, Non Payment Of Teachers’ Salaries
“It is so much unfortunate that the Governor has refused to pay workers salary despite the Bailout funds, Paris Refund and the federal allocation accrued to the state which runs into billions of Naira. The failure of the government to offset the backlog of unpaid salaries to the Teachers pose a serious threat to the state Education System and the capacity of the Students especially those at the fundamental Level. A responsible Government doesn’t play with teachers’ salaries and should take it as a priority in its Plans and Program. It is unfortunate that the Abia State Government has failed in this Regards and shouldn’t be campaigning for re-election after failing its campaign promises to offset backlog of salaries and to pay workers on 28th of Every Month. Abian should hold this Government to Account on its failure to improve the education sector” – wailed Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor and coordinator of the non-governmental organization, FENRAD Nigeria over the continued closure of secondary and primary schools in the entirety of Abia State.
The entire secondary and primary schools in Abia State have gone on strike – and have shut all secondary and primary schools since the beginning of the third term – owing to the inability of the Ikpeazu administration to pay teachers wages stretching from the inception of the current administration. The students and pupils of the schools in Abia State are presently at home. All the government schools in Abia State are shut. No student are attending school in Abia State currently.
The Ikpeazu administration received over N21Billion in Paris Refund and other Bailout funds.
According to cursory investigation conducted by 247ureports.com, the Ikpeazu administration which prides itself as education friendly administration unfortunately deprioritized education and financing of education in Abia State. Governor Ikpeazu is known to beat his chest as one with a healthy background as a teacher/educator – and had pledged to revamp the education system to reinvigorate the primary and secondary school standard. The Governor even made promises of turning the standard around to the extent a Primary school pupil in Class 3 would be able to operate and carry out basic functions in a computer.
However the Governor’s rhetoric appears to not translate to actions. With the assumption of office as the executive governor of Abia State, Ikpeazu change his focus from education to elsewhere. His focus moved so far away, he began defaulting on payment of salaries of teachers. From 2016, the Ikpeazu administration began lagging in the remittance of teachers’ salaries. “He would pay one month out of six months salaries” said a source who was a primary teacher in Abia State.
Our source who spoke in fear of retributive actions by the Ikpeazu administration told 247ureports.com that the nonpayment of salaries dated back to 2016. “He just stopped paying and the Union leaders are with him [Ikpeazu]”. The source indicates the Union leaders who are supposed to advocate on behalf of the teachers and the workers are also afraid to speak up. Many of the Union leaders have “been settled” by the Governor to remain silent. “That was why we did not go on strike last term”.
The source explained that the burden was getting too much to bear. “We had to go on strike. Some of us are owed over six month’s salary. And we have no other source of income.” The source lamented bitterly while pointing to the manner the Governor’s aide have been exhibiting flamboyant lifestyles and erecting mansions in the high priced areas of Aba and Umuahia. “Some of Ikpeazu’s aides now drive around Umuahia in Mercedes G-Wagons, Mercedes 4matic, and Range Rovers. They are building big houses everywhere. And cannot pay teachers?”
All government owned secondary and primary schools were to resume third term a little over three weeks ago. None of the students have been able to attend school. A Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] chieftain of the State who spoke with our correspondent on his displeasure over the state of affairs in Abia State education sector stated, “I have it on good authority he is owing Primary School teachers over 6months. He has not paid them since October/November 2017. He is also owing the Secondary school teachers over 4months salary. He has not paid and teacher since last year. How callous. He wants to become the Mbadinuju of Abia State?”
The chieftain explained that it is unconstitutional for a state government to deny access to education to primary and secondary school students. “By law, all children are entitled to primary and secondary education. It is against the law to deny them access”. He queried by the Ikpeazu administration deprioritized the primary and secondary education, after having promised to revamp the sector. He called it the worst thing a governor can do to his people.
In talking with the Abia State government, they confirmed to 247ureports.com, the Teachers were owed salaries and that the schools were yet to reopen due to strike action. In the words of the Commissioner of Information, Chief John Okiyi, “We are working to resolve the issues that led to the strike and expect an early resolution. While primary school teachers have 2 month outstanding their secondary counterparts have 4 months.”