Teachers across the 18 local government areas of Cross River State on Thursday called on relevant authorities not to hand over primary education to the management of councils to avoid problems in the payment of salaries.
Protesting under the aegis of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, the teachers said they were not against local government autonomy, but their concern was about the likely scrapping of the State Joint Local Government Account.
The protesting teachers carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Give us first line charge of salary payment’, ‘Shaky foundation, collapsed system – enough is enough’, ‘We say no to the dark era of non-payment of salaries’ and ‘Save primary education from imminent collapse’, among others.
State chairman of NUT, Mr. Eyo-Nsa Itam, who led the over 300 teachers in protest, said primary school teachers were currently being owed salaries of several months due to the inability of councils to provide funds needed for payments.
He said that it was unfortunate that public primary education had suffered neglect and underfunding. He therefore called on the state government to take over the payment of primary school teachers salaries in order to save the education sub-sector from what he called a total collapse.
He said, “We wish to state here that the NUT is not totally against local government autonomy but the union is concerned about the likelihood of scrapping the State Joint Local Government Account which would mean taking primary education back to the dark pre-1994 era.
“Experience has shown that the local government councils neither have the financial capacity nor the political will to fund and manage primary schools in the country. Therefore, any attempt to hand over primary education to LGAs amounts to sending primary education to the abyss of total collapse.’’