By Emmanuel Ugwu
Abia State school system is facing the prospect of abrupt paralysis early next year as the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has vowed to shut down all public primary and secondary schools in the state.
The NUT national leadership had early December warned Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the impending shut down of schools over the non-payment of 15 months salary arrears said to be owed primary and secondary school teachers.
In the letter titled ‘The Plight of Teachers in Abia State’, dated December 2, 2020 and signed by the NUT President, Dr. Nadir Idris and the General Secretary, Dr. Mike Ike Ene, the union gave Ikpeazu 21 days to clear the salary arrears or risk indefinite closure of schools.
But with no sign of positive response yet from the governor, the state leadership of NUT has started mobilising for the indefinite strike after the Yuletide season.
The NUT national leadership had in wading into the plight of Abia teachers, expressed frustration and disappointment over serial breach of agreements reached with the state government to end the sufferings of teachers in the state.
According to the NUT, the government of Abia State has continued to inflict sufferings and hardships on its teachers following its persistent failure to honour agreements with teachers since 2017.
The teachers’ leadership also demanded that government should immediately offset other allowances owed secondary and basic school teachers in the state.
It was gathered that the leadership of the state wing of NUT had held “crucial” meetings with, and its branches at the local government areas have held joint meetings on December 16 and 17, 2020 in Umuahia on the way forward.
Similar meetings were said to have held at the local government education authorities branches of the union during which teachers were put on readiness for the impending industrial crisis in the school system.
It was further gathered that Abia teachers have perfected plans for “mother of all strikes, “which would be “a new year gift to Ikpeazu for not listening to the cries of teachers in government employment.”
The issue of arrears of teachers’ salaries in Abia has continued to swirl in controversy as government has often differed with teachers on the number of months of outstanding salaries and the category of teachers being owed.