By Archibong Jeremiah
The Cross River State Chapter Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT Comrade Eyo Nsa Itam has thrown his weight behind the state government’s decision to contract an Indian Company based in Port Harcourt, EDUCOM to recruit teachers for the state government. These and many more were disclosed to CrossRiverWatch in an exclusive interview.
“As an NUT official I strongly support the EDUCOM firm in recruiting of teachers for the state, according to the information we got from the ministry, they are trying to recruit standard teachers who will be able to stand the test of time because it is believed when it was done by us there was a lot of favoritism, man know man. We have a case at hand where four teachers are said not to be able to read and write when they went to swear a code of conduct which they couldn’t swear at the end of the day and were reported to the board. They couldn’t read because of how they got into the service; this other exercise I believe is transparent and we will have the best.”
When asked if there are no professionals or qualified hands in the state or country to do the recruitment according to best practices, he said, “As a union we don’t have hands in the recruitment of teachers, we can only advice because at the end of the day when recruited they become our members, talking about enough hands I think we have good hands but because of the degree of corruption, I think made the government to bring independent umpire which I believe is okay”.
According to him, the excuse given by the state government for the delay in payment of state civil servants salary is not satisfactory; “For three months I have not been paid salary which I’m due for, if one month allocation is not enough at least the second would”, it’s no excuse he reiterated adding that, “If the money is not sufficient why not chat with affiliate unions the way forward like ministry of local government did”.
In itemizing his achievements since he got into office, he revealed that they include: “Renovation of the secretariat including – conference halls (50 and 25 persons respectively), office apartments, business center and cafeteria. Strengthening the relationship between head teachers and the commissioner of education which put an end to the head teachers just been stooge to the commissioner for fear of not been marked as an enemy. The issue of Teachers Specific Allowance, TSA has been resolved after a six weeks strike where we dialogue and the government proved beyond reasonable doubt that they will not be able to pay 27.5% and we arrived at 16.22% as middle ground, they have been paying it religiously which is subject to improving when the economy improves as contained in the agreement with many more lying on his excellence’s table for approval which I strongly believe by the end of this month will be approved”.
More of his achievements include: “We have a registered teachers cooperative society now which we will soon kick start, we would have since January but couldn’t because of none payment of salaries. A lot of teachers are been exploited by things like the hire purchase club; television of 40 thousand at hire purchase will be given at hundred thousand, many other exploitation. This cooperative has come to stay to do away with high level of exploitation and save them from many embarrassments. Also the End Well, EW which is like pension in modus is working. We have bought two new vehicles, a long time partner of ours gave us a bus”.
About his challenges, he said, “My first challenge was on the low morale, self confidence and esteem of teachers themselves which today has greatly improved. They had a lot of timidity, fear of been sacked if not followed the government good or bad example is the strike we went for where some cried for fear of being sacked but when we proved to them that no one can sack them for seeking for their right they summoned courage. Another challenge is government not meeting up to their obligations, the major problem with government is telling lies. And non payment of salaries not even when due. A major challenge again is poor infrastructures in our schools, many schools across the state students still sit on bare floor, no roof, no nothing, we are still talking to government though Imoke has tried to renovate and build schools but more needs to be done. Like Pin Margret they run shift because of no accommodation but the contract was awarded and the people couldn’t meet expectations but the government should have arrested them”.
The NUT Cross River State Chairman bluntly criticized the state government support program for schools saying “Parents should be allowed to buy text books, not what the government is doing; I haven’t seen where two hundred and fifty naira thereabout can be used to buy text books. If they allow parents to buy text books and give the principal the power to enforce, I think the sector will be better. They should bear the cost of their children’s education by paying school fees, WAEC and other fees. Like the last time if not for intervention of unions children wouldn’t have gotten their results, many couldn’t get admission because WAEC held Cross River State’s results, if parents were allowed to pay their children’s’ school fees that wouldn’t have happened. The Cross River State government cannot cater for free education now; you cannot give what you don’t have, when government doesn’t have money always why stop parents from bearing the school costs of their children”, he queried.
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