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Taraba Govt. And Teachers Reach Common Ground

From Nick Dugba

A resolution was reached between Government and protesting teachers today over unpaid salaries and all parties left satisfied.

At the Governor’s office, on hand to receive officials of the NUT, was Secretary to the State Government, Anthony Jellason, and other Staff of the Government House, who made attempts to pacify the aggrieved unionists.

When the Deputy Governor, Haruna Manu, eventually turned up, a representative of the teachers was selected to meet him behind closed doors. But that decision did not go down well with other members including their lawyer who interpreted such an action as a divide and rule antic. However, the Deputy Governor eventually came out and addressed the officials.

Meanwhile, the SSG, in his remarks said the Government was awaiting the report of the committee set up to weed out fake teachers and determine genuine ones.

A human rights activist, Barr. Mohammed Bello Mustapha, who accompanied the Teachers, asked the Government to face the situation of Teachers squarely and not continue to play with their lives.

When the Deputy Governor finally spoke, everyone was satisfied, and a common ground was reached.

Manu, who was visibly agitated, attributed the root of the problem to the issue of fake teachers and ghost workers syndrome. He said as a salary consultant, the issue of salaries was very complicated and that the cooperation of the teachers was needed so that the problem could be solved.

“Let us have genuine teachers so that we would continue to pay them. How can we continue to pay teachers in schools that don’t exist?”, he asked.

He urged the NUT to provide the right information and that if they were interested in resolving the issue, they should constitute a committee to dialogue with Government in order to resolve the issue once and for all. He assured that if that was done and genuine teachers were determined, salaries would be paid immediately.

The teachers then declared that they have lost confidence in their officials and therefore decided to use a new group known as Association of Concerned Primary School Teachers, to go round all the Primary Schools in the State, determine genuine teachers and get back to the Government for action to be taken.

The Government House in Jalingo this morning Tuesday, experienced a mammoth crowd of school teachers and primary school pupils, who staged a protest over seven months unpaid salaries.

The crowd was said to have marched from the city centre in the early hours of Tuesday straight to the seat of government where they were stopped at the entrance by security men. The crowd included primary school pupils, teachers, union officials and staff of the education ministry.

According to the protesting teachers, they were not paid salaries for up to seven months, and they couldn’t bear it any longer hence the protest.

Speaking to this reporter, one of the teachers who pleaded anonymity said “we are protesting because we have not been paid for over a year and we don’t know the reason. They kept on promising but failed. Our union is not helping matters. We are tired”.

At the Roadblock end of the city, a similar protest of primary school pupils led by several of their teachers were seen demonstrating.

This reporter witnessed the protest which according to one of the teachers was because of unpaid salaries of over seven months.

The teachers could be seen compelling the pupils along the highway to block vehicles while others were regulating their movements by whipping them with brooms in a bid to prevent them from being hit by moving vehicles.

When one of the protesting teachers was asked why they had to risk the lives of pupils to advance their cause, she said, it was deliberate to attract solidarity from their parents. “We want the parents to know because it is only the poor that go to government schools. The rich ones send their children abroad”, she stated.

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