Schools yet to resume over unpaid salary in Bayelsa

Secondary and primary schools in Bayelsa  State, are  yet to resume  for a new academic  session, following the  inability of the state government to clear  salary arrears owed teachers in public schools.

The teachers declined to resume work at the end of the long vacation, which terminated in the first week of September.

The development has kept pupils and students in government primary and secondary schools at home, more than three weeks into the new academic  session.

The state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), in a statement made available to journalists in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Monday, advised teachers to stay at home as the union was yet to shift grounds on its demand on the unpaid salary arrears.

They said the  strike  became inevitable after the 21-day ultimatum given by the state executive council of  NUT to the government expired on September 19.

According to the statement signed by the state chairman of NUT, Mr Kalama Toinpre and Mr Johnson Hector, secretary, the teachers frowned at efforts to factionalise the union.

The state chapter of  NUT said  that it remained the only legally recognised body charged with the responsibility of agitating for the welfare of primary and secondary school teachers.

It was gathered that the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration in  the state, had recognised a rival body known as Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools and was indeed, holding clandestine talks with them to abort the strike that has crippled the educational system.

Sadly, the state government had only paid  January salary for the teachers in full and a half-month salary  in February, leaving arrears of seven months.

The state Commissioner for Education, Mr Markson Fefegha, confirmed the allegations of NUT that the government was involved in factionalising the work force.

He, however, said the government had been meeting with the teachers to resolve the issues raised but declined further comments on the fate of primary school teachers in the state.

“I have been meeting with the executive of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, I have been explaining to them our efforts so far in meeting our salary obligations.” hesaid