Teachers in Imo State have said that primary and secondary schools in the state may not be reopened even if the state government orders the resumption of all schools amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Philip Nwanshi explained in an interview with journalists in Owerri that the reason is that the state government was yet to fulfill promises made to teachers in the state regarding their salaries.
According to Nwanshi, during a meeting with Governor Hope Uzodimma months ago, he promised to clear arrears of salaries owed to teachers, lamenting that up till the first week of September, salaries of about 2000 teachers have not been paid for about seven months.
“In Ngor Okpala LGA, no primary school teacher has received his salaries up to date since March this year. In Owerri West and other LGAs also, various numbers of teachers are yet to receive their salaries.
“There is no way you can tell me that what is holding their salaries is BVN and the banks. We cannot believe that. You cannot tell me that the papers of all the teachers in Ngor Okpala are wrong”, the NUT boss said.
He insisted that teachers in the state would not participate in the resumption of schools in the state if they did not get any favourable answers regarding the payment of their salaries after their scheduled meeting with the accountant general.
He said, “What we’re saying is that if every teacher does not get his salaries up to date and if the union does not get its check-off dues, there is no possibility of schools reopening in Imo State.
“The union has not been running since March and the government is deducting the check-off dues and still not remitting the same to the union. And if we don’t react, our members will never have full confidence in us anymore. They’ll think 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 those forms were filled by those the government feels have problems.
“The day we called our members that have problems, our secretariat could not contain them. This goes to show that there are no ghost teachers Imo State. There is no way you can pay somebody’s salary and that person comes back to say you are owing him.”
He called on the state government to direct the payment of teachers in the state because “Most of our teachers are dying in hunger. Somebody that has not been paid for the past six months, it means invariably you have sacked that person.
“But, I want to encourage those teachers that nobody can sack them. They should continue to have patience.”