Comrade Elijah Olusegun Dada (JP) is the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Oyo State Wing. In this exclusive interview with Ojo Peter, he spoke about the on-going teachers’ strike and other issues affecting education in the state. Excerpts:
Why are Teachers on strike?
The strike is about the fight for the implementation of the demand for 27.5 percent increment in teachers salary from the Government. If you could recollect, last year there was a demand by teachers for special salaries nationwide, but with the intervention of various governors throughout the nation on the 6th of August 2008 an agreement was signed with the Governor Forum. They all promised that by January 2009 payment of the 27.5 percent would commence.
Some states have started paying while some have not. So, when the North and the Western Zone of NUT met on the matter this month it was agreed those teachers should commence their strike Wednesday, 25th February 2009 until the agreement signed with the government is executed.
You gave the government a 21 day ultimatum before commencement of this strike. What was the actual date?
We gave the governor notice of the strike on the forth of February this year. It was a twenty-one day ultimatum which collapsed on the twenty-four. So, when the deadline passed without any positive response from the state governments yet to implement the teachers agreement, we then embarked on the strike as a last option. So, we closed all schools.
So, how far has the government made overtures to you since the strike started?
In fact, the issue is not to negotiate or to meet again. It is a matter of signing and implementing the agreement of the 27.5 percent as demanded by us. Though the Oyo state government has called us, we are still on it and we hope that the state government will do something positive about our agreement with them.
Some states are said to have started implementing 27.5 percent, NUT demand?
Well, we have about thirteen states that have responded positively. There is Kano, Niger, Gombe, Delta, Ekiti, Borno, Edo, Kaduna, Yobe and others in this category. Even Kano started to do so in November last year. There, however, some states that are paying their own teachers up to 30 percent. We were so moved by the responses from these states.
In Oyo State, we hope that the Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala led government would soon do so. This is because all the discussion we have so far had with him, he has always assured us that he would do something. He is not around at the moment. Immediately he comes back, he would automatically approve this thing.