Teachers under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Oyo State Wing Wednesday stormed the streets of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital to protest the proposed local government autonomy.
They insisted that if local government autonomy is to be achieved, funding and management of primary schools should be taken away as a responsibility of the local government.
The protest rally which took off at the Agodi State Secretariat of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) was led by the State Chairman, Comrade Niyi Akano in company of the state NLC chairman, Comrade Waheed Olojede and other state executives who got to the Oyo State government secretariat to deliver a protest letter to the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
The placard carrying teachers agreed that granting autonomy to the local government either political, financial or administrative would by implication mean transferring the management, equipping and funding primary school education to the local government, a burden which is too heavy for the third tier of government to bear.
Some of the inscriptions on the placard reads: “Nigerian Union of Teachers, Oyo State Wing says no to local government autonomy. Basic education is a right of every child”, “Local government councils do not have the capacity to pay primary school teachers salaries”, “Basic education is a right and must be protected by all”, “Foundation of education in Nigeria under threat again”
Others read: “Pay teachers regularly for a sustainable primary education”, “Our children’s future must be secured”, “Funding of primary education should be the responsibility of the state and federal government”
Comrade Akano in his address said that the rally was not a protest against salaries arrears but a fight for the soul of primary education in the state and the country at large.
He said experience had shown that local government lacks the capacity to run and fund primary education effectively, particularly based on its sensitivity as the foundation of education.
Speaking in the same vein, NLC Chairman , Comrade Waheed Olojede maintained that allowing the local governments to take charge of the primary school education in the country is a good way of sending the sector back to the woods but that the teachers through the umbrella body would not support local government autonomy in any way.
He recounted that the period between 1990-1994 when LG enjoyed full autonomy was the worst for the sector as many teachers were at the mercy of Council boss before getting the salaries and entitlements.
Olojede, however, said if the federal government is insistent on granting autonomy to the local government, issues such as managing, funding and equipping of primary schools should be transferred to the state government.
More so, the NLC state chairman suggested that payment of primary school teachers salaries and entitlements should be left with State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) while also advocating for a review of the revenue allocation from the federal government such that more funds would be available to the state governments to fund primary and secondary schools.
The State Deputy Governor, Otunba Moses Adeyemo who received the protesters on behalf of the state governor assured that he would deliver the message of the group to the governor.
Adeyemo who expressed shock at the turn out noted that until the protest, he had thought teachers were strong advocate of local government autonomy.