The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Kaduna State chapter says the state government has resorted to crude propaganda and diversionary tactics by trying to depict a rally organised and attended by the leadership of the labour movement in Nigeria as agitation by 21,000 unqualified teachers.
On Wednesday, the state government had said that following reports of serial criminal actions that had taken place in the last three days, it had forwarded the names of individuals putting pupils at risk, disrupting schools and vandalising public property to the law-enforcement agencies.
Adamu Mansur, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, explained at a press briefing that the government would not allow anyone to get away with criminal activity under the cover of industrial relations.
He emphasised that nothing would deter the government from recruiting qualified teachers, while giving disengaged teachers the entitlements specified in their terms of service.
“The Kaduna State Government wishes to thank the public for supporting its quest to deliver quality education in public schools. This includes recruiting qualified teachers for the public primary schools. So far, more than 17,000 applications have been received by the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board and more are expected before the deadline of 19th November 2017.
“The government today reviewed the situation in primary schools across the state. This review included a meeting with the Executive Secretaries of all the 23 local government education authorities. Government is satisfied that a majority of the primary schools in the state are functioning as normal.
“However, government continues to receive disturbing reports of criminal activities being undertaken in the name of union activities. Some of these activities include the following:
1. Today, the NLC-led thugs to vandalise the Lugard Hall premises of the Kaduna State House of Assembly.
2. Officials of trade unions forcibly closing schools such as the Katsina Road LEA School and sending the pupils to the streets.
3. Blockage of highways by pupils and secondary school students, at the behest of their teachers;
4. Abdication of duty by some teachers who have left their pupils unattended.
“NUT officials were previously warned about the consequences of illegal activity, including the unlawful use of pupils for protests, forcible closure of schools and engaging in unauthorised demonstrations.
“The shameful events at the Kaduna State House of Assembly when union thugs destroyed public property and attacked honorable members is a visible and dangerous escalation.
“Security and law-enforcement agencies have the names of the individuals to be investigated for the organised actions that endangered school pupils, forcibly closed schools and attacked the Kaduna State House of Assembly.”
“The Kaduna State Government is filing complaints for criminal violations of several sections of the Penal Code, including:
*Section 59: Criminal Conspiracy
*Section 73: Promoting Unlawful Assembly
*Section 77: Disturbance of Public Peace
*Section 78: Inciting Disturbance
*Section 162: Obstruction on Public Way
Charges may also be filed for violations of the Young Persons’ Law.”
But in a statement signed by the Adamu Ango, the state NLC chairman in Kaduna, the chapter said NLC affirmed in unmistakable terms that it would never be intimated and it would indeed continue to play its historical role of the conscience of society and protector of workers’ rights, using all means available to it within the confines of the law.
He said the attempt by the state government to sack 21,000 teachers in public schools was in the public domain and, therefore, the pupils in public schools coming out to demonstrate on the streets was not orchestrated by the labour movement.
He said the events at the state House of Assembly after the rally by the labour movement could not be attributed to it, “and same is a replica of the sad events at the NUJ secretariat, Kaduna, where supporters of the state government openly attacked law-abiding citizens, who were there to address a press conference. And unfortunately, nobody has been prosecuted or is being prosecuted for their participation in the dastardly act.
“Our attention has been drawn to the content of press briefing by Adamu Mansur, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Kaduna, dated 8th November, 2017, and we react to same as follows: That, the Kaduna State Government as usual, instead of addressing the core issues relative to the impasse between it and the labour movement has resorted to crude propaganda and diversionary tactics by trying to depict a rally organised and attended by the leadership of the entire labour movement in Nigeria as an agitation by 21,000 unqualified teachers.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the rally held in Kaduna on 8th November 2017 was peaceful and same was held in exercise of our members’ constitutional rights guaranteed under Sections 35(1), 39(1) and 40 of the 1999 Constitution, which is the grundnorm and all other laws drives their potency therefrom.
“Fortunately, in Kaduna State, similar rights have been exercised in support of the state government’s decision to external loan without let or hindrance.”
Ango further stated that, by organising the peaceful rally of 8th November, 2017, the labour movement did not offend the provisions of any extant law.
He said recent events in the educational sector have vindicated the labour movement whose advice to government to utilise the over N10 billion expended in the school feeding programme in the development of infrastructure and teacher education/retraining was ignored.
“The government in the face of its lackluster performance resultant inter-alia from lack of teacher education/retraining cannot now turn around and claim to be more patriotic or concerned about falling standards of education than the labour movement,” the chairman added.
However, the NLC and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) are yet to respond to the state government’s release of the answer scripts of some teachers who participated in the competency test set by the government.
Basic questions like the full name of the Governor, the three state of matter and so on were found difficult to answer by some of the teachers.
Titus Amba, the state NUT Chairman, could not be reached and is yet to respond to text messages sent to his phone number as at the time of filling this report.
The government said it plans to sack over 20,000 teachers who failed the test, a move opposed by the workers’ union.