- Insists Union’s president still our leader, did not fail test
BY SEGUN ADEBAYO – Another round of crippling industrial action is looming large in Kaduna State as the National leadership of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) has openly confronted Governor Nasir el-Rufai over the dismissal of 2,357 teachers in the State.
Accordingly, the NUT is demanding an immediate reversal of the action and reinstatement of its members by the State government.
For the teachers’ Union, the whole concept of competency test relied upon by the government to sack 2,357 teachers last week was “designed to achieve its inglorious aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.” The NUT National Executive Council (NEC) has therefore threatened to declare a nationwide strike in solidarity with teachers in Kaduna if the state government fails to act according to its demands
Leading members of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) to address a media conference in Abuja on Wednesday, NUT Deputy National President, Kelvin Nwankwo declared the action of Governor el-Rufai as ‘null and void’.
The Union insisted that the State Government’s announced sacking of 2,357, including the National President of NUT, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, for allegedly failing competency and not appearing for the test is totally unacceptable.
The Teachers’ Union, which declared that its president did not fail the competency test as claimed, warned that the failure of the Kaduna government to retrace its steps, then the massive strike would become an option to press home their demand.
Comrade Nwankwo said; “You know our members are well-dedicated people. This is the only union that does not have one illiterate among us. Remember that because of the competency test issue, we went to court, we are law-abiding citizens and we felt that is the only way we can resolve this.
“But if it becomes necessary that we must go on strike, it would be a nationwide strike.”
Further alleging that Governor El-Rufai is seeking to intimidate the NUT President and embarrass the teachers in Nigeria by the action, the Union described it as part of the government’s strategy not to pay or owe workers their salaries.
The NUT said the case of its President clearly establishes the fact that the whole concept of competency test in Kaduna State is arbitrary and lacking in certainty.
Noting that he was not dismissed for failure to write the competency test when it all started, the Union said; “The question that readily agitates the mind in the circumstance is, what has changed in 2021/2022? It is also rather very sad and curious that the dismissal letter relative to the NUT President was in the Public domain via social media even when it has not been served on him.
“The intention clearly is to intimidate the NUT President and embarrass the Teachers in Nigeria. This like other anti-labour and people policies of the Kaduna State Government has failed on arrival. We got news for His Excellency Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai and his co-travelers to wit:- power is transient.
“NUT, therefore, reaffirmed its commitment to stand with its revered President, Comrade Audu Titus Amba and all the teachers in Kaduna State, who have fallen victim to the anti-labour policies in Kaduna State and which policies have defied all logic and lacking in the milk of human kindness,” the NUT further stated.
The Teachers’ body challenged the governor to rather embark on a continuous teacher training programme, which it noted, would at the end of the day, “improve knowledge and service delivery by teachers in public schools in Kaduna State as obtains in other professions such as Nursing, Medicine and Law.”
It said; “The very concept of competency test is an aberration and absurd having regards to the fact that the teachers in Kaduna State have prior to their recruitment in the state public service, attended schools and institutions statutorily saddled with the responsibility of teacher education and these institutions have certified them to be competent, fit and proper to be teachers.
“In addition, the same Kaduna State Government had subjected the teachers to scrutiny and test to ensure their suitability or otherwise for employment as teachers before they were recruited by it.
“It is in the context of the above that the whole concept of a competency test which is only peculiar to Kaduna State is akin to a cocktail of absurdities and leaves a sour taste in the mouth, thereby validating the position of NUT that the intentions of the Kaduna State Government on this issue are everything but altruistic.”
The NUT Deputy President said it is unfortunate that as the second most indebted state in Nigeria, the state government is now “on a free roller coaster move to satisfy the conditionalities handed down to it by its creditors, which normally includes downsizing of the public service without even the remotest regards to our peculiar circumstances.”
Taking a further swipe at the controversial policy, the NUT Deputy President said; ”The whole concept of competency test was designed by the Kaduna State Government to achieve its inglorious aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.
“Otherwise, how else can one attempt a rationalization of the fact that the same Kaduna State Government in the year 2018 dismissed/retired in one swoop 21,780 teachers purportedly for not passing its unilaterally and arbitrarily administered competency test and purportedly in replacement thereof recruited about 20,000 new teachers, who according to it were subjected to vigorous test and confirmed to be competent before they were recruited into the Kaduna State Public Service.”
He said; “In accordance with the Kaduna State Public/Civil Service Rules, these purported 20,000 teachers were employed on a temporary basis and placed on a one-year probationary period.
“Their appointments were to be made permanent and pensionable after the one-year probationary period. However, rather regrettably five years down the line, these teachers are still under temporary appointment with the result that the Kaduna State Government can whimsically and shamelessly ask them to leave the public service without any terminal-related benefits.
“These selfsame 20,000 constitute the bulk of the 2,357 teachers, who are said not to have passed the latest in the series of competency tests in Kaduna State.”
The teachers’ Union said there would be no backing down in the fight for things to be done right, claiming that; “the manifest intention of the Kaduna State Government is to prey on the rather unfortunate existing non-employment status of our teeming school leavers by recruiting them as teachers only to subsequently subject them to the raw deal it subjected the purported 20,000 teachers, thereby achieving its aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.”