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NUT, OBI ON WARPATH

By NBF News
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National Union of Teachers (NUT) has on Thursday reviled Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State for transferring 1096 basic schools to churches. While briefing journalists at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NUT in Abuja, the National President, Comrade Micheal Alogba Olukoya, described the action of the governor of Anambra State and the missions as a criminal violation of the 'compulsory free universal education ACT 2004' and a total disservice to the nation.

Olukoya said: 'It is a parody and travesty of governance that as the world moves progressively toward mass education through public funding, the Governor of Anambra State is all out to returning education to elitist project, undeserving for the children of the poor masses.'

He noted that the situation in Anambra State assumed a dimension, which bordered on criminal violation of 'the compulsory free universal basic education Act 2004', which made intendments of section 18 of the 1999 constitution that 'government shall direct her policy towards ensuring that there are adequate and equal educational opportunities at all levels' while Section 3 states that 'the services provided in public primary and secondary schools shall be free of charge.'

The NUT President noted that the recourse to handing over basic schools to churches is an attempt at commercializing, by Governor Obi and churches who have custody of the schools compulsory, free and universal basic education and noted that both parties are treading the path of criminality in the face of the law.'

Comrade Olukoya scoffed at Obi's statement while announcing the return of 56 secondary and 1040 primary schools to the missionaries on the 21st November, 2011 in which he said: 'it is hoped that with the return of schools to their original voluntary agency owners, the aspect of moral depravity afflicting our society, child development will be addressed better than in the completely public schools in which morality is treated scantily' and challenged him to convince the public if majority of people in Nigerian prisons today and most of the ex-Governors and high profile public servants already heading for jail on account of money laundering, are not products of missions schools.

Speaking further, he also argued that it is also moral depravity to think that government is assisting religious bodies with the sum of N9 billion public funds to prosecute religious education while the country remains a secular state.

When reminded that the Minister of State for Education was there during the handover, Olukoya replied that 'the Minister's presence shows that the President sanctioned it and it is conspiracy par excellence and equally injustice that someone who is supposed to oversee activities in public primary schools should sit and watch while the schools are handed over to the missions.'

He warned that except Obi rescinds its decision on schools' handover and stoppage of union dues' without further delay, they will make the state ungovernable for him come next year.

'The union promises the state government a new year without fun, come January,' he said. 'We shall make sure that teachers, whether in public or private schools, embark on strike. We shall close down schools and picket anyone that defied our order and remain open. In short, the NUT will relocate to Awka until justice is served.'

Lending its support to NUT demand, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) through its Assistant Secretary General, Comrade Nuhu Toro disclosed that NLC president has directed that 'they relocate with NUT to Awka if the NUT demand is not met. We will mobilize the over 40 member affiliates to the state.'

In his remark, the Policy Advisor, CSACEFA, Samuel Wale, noted that in the course of neglecting education, the nation is now a country under siege, with government shying away from its responsibilities in the name of paucity of funds and, promised to, on behalf of civil society organizations to ensure that the fundamental human rights of children are not trampled upon.