EXCLUSIVE: NUT Chairman Expresses Satisfaction Over Speedy Approval Of TPDC
Chairman, Delta State chapter, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Titus Okotie, has expressed his joy that Teachers' Professional Development Centre (TPDC) promised by the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has been finally approved for construction for the training of teachers to enhance their productivity.
He said the major concern of teachers in the state was to see the reality of the promise and the functionality of the amenities “we really have no much role to play as to the location. If the government feels that is the proper place they were able to secure land, good and fine but I want to believe that all the necessary facilities will be provided, otherwise, it will be a wide elephant project – so to say”.
He also dispel insinuations arising from the location, Owa-Oyibu, Ika North East local government area of the state as the choice of any other place would properly be the outskirt.
Hear him: “there are problems too in citing such an institution in an overpopulated area. In an overpopulated area like Warri, where can you get land? The only place you can get land will be the outskirt of Warri. If you say it is in Asaba, it will still be the outskirt. You either think of Okpanam or Ugbolu oe whatever base on my knowledge of the metropolis of Asaba, Warri and in fact, Ughelli. At the end of the day, if all the necessary facilities like hostel that can accommodate participants-the trainees are not there, it will be of no use because people will now be travelling from far distance to wherever it is located”.
According to him, “I want to assume that before Owa-Oyibu is pronounced, am sure the government must have taken into consideration all the necessary facilities they want to provide like hostels and accommodation”.
He continued: “I don’t think we should bother our minds too much about the location. The most important thing is the will to complete the project not just approval. We will be happy to see it come to fruition and in no distant time we start using it, which is what we benefit from”.
On the recent protest the Union embarked on he said, “The provision of primary education lies squally on both the state, federal and to an extent the local government but the payment of salary of primary school teachers have been totally transferred to local government allocation. It was that reason that made us to be feeling that if local government could get autonomy, perhaps, they may just make local government to be paying primary school teacher’s salary which we feel from the experience we had in 1994, the local government cannot really do that. They will not be able, otherwise we will be running into arrears of primary school teachers”, noting that if it is the wish of the country that the local government gets autonomy, no problem”
He stressed that the salaries of primary school teachers should be paid directly by the federal government through the first line charge, “on the alternative, let the responsibility rest squally on the state government because local government is not competent to pay primary school teacher’s salary because the allocation they are getting now cannot guarantee that. So, for regular payment of salary, for the sake of our future generation and the future of our education which is the bedrock of primary education, we feel that let the salary of primary school teachers be of first line charge from the federation account so that we do not bother ourselves with autonomy or no autonomy”
On the allegation of being used by the opposition against the incumbent administration, he noted: “you see anything politics people are bound to speculate. All what they were saying then were speculative, otherwise, I mine a card carrying member of any political party? I am a Unionist, I have being a unionist for long, revealing that he went into politics until 2013, “I withdrew from partisan politics. So, I have being a unionist all along since then. If they are to link me to any particular party, that would have been PDP, that is not to say that I am in PDP”, stressing that he would only fight for the party that takes the interest of teachers as their priority.
“Any party that is ready to pay teachers salary regularly, I belong to that party. Of course, my interest is the welfare of the teachers. Any government that can guarantee that the welfare of the teachers will be their priority, I will mobilize the entire populace of the teachers to support such government”.
On whether the PDP government has taken to welfare of teacher as priority, he said, “coincidentally, PDP has been ruling this state since the beginning of this democratic experiment and of course to talk about this government in isolation, you will not be fair because there must be a foundation. You don’t just build a house without the foundation. The question you may ask, was there a proper foundation by that government since 2000?
He said if private individuals could go to the bank to borrow money and invest and start employing people, making profit and growing, “then a state like Delta that has been getting allocation cannot gather enough money to be employing people regularly. I am afraid if the foundation of that building is not shaking. Why should we depend on only the allocation?
He expressed hope that the promise of the governor to off-set a month arrear from the three months arrears would be achieved, “today is 15th, I am not a pessimist, I am still optimistic that before the end of the year, the promise will be fulfilled”, revealing that in the last JAAC allocation, teachers were made to understand that it was October allocation that came from the federal government in December. So, there is room for November and December allocations to come. If those two can come, of course two more months salaries can be paid before the end of December even if it is paid first week of January, we will not nurse any grudge in as much as the two allocations left for this year to come and it is paid it must have reduce the number of months they will be owing primary school teachers and one month would have been taken care of and the promise would have been fulfilled if it happens that way”, noting that he was thinking of reminding the governor following his very busy nature, “I may wish to remind our Excellency so that the promise will be fulfilled.
He called on government to give teachers appropriate priority, “with that teachers will be willing to support all of the programmes and to ensure that he lays the foundation and complete his programmes and not allow their priority to suffer any setback” just as he called on teachers to do their best and endure despite the nonpayment of salaries as at when due, “the term ended peacefully, no hiccup. I told them to write the exam because I am sure the government will do the needful and base on that they really did perform their duties effectively and we wish that they continue in that direction”.