By Toba Adedeji
The kick against Local Government Autonomy got a boost on Tuesday as State Government of Osun threw its weight behind the Nigeria Union of Teachers over the funding of primary schools.
The State government through the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Omotunde Young restated the government’s non-backing of local government autonomy in a rally by members of the NUT which terminated in front of the State Secretariat.
The NUT members in their scores appeared in uniform and chanting solidarity songs while some of them were armed with placard, with several inscription, read: “Enough of Toying with The Future of Our Youth, Save Primary Education from Imminent Collapse”.
The NUT members led by the Union’s Chairman, Mr.Wakeel Amuda while addressing the Commissioner for Education, Mr Omotunde Young said, “Our demand on local government autonomy is that our salary should be on first line charge.
According to The Chairman, “We are not ready and we won’t take it if primary school teachers and maintenance of schools are put in the hand of local government councils. I am now appealing on to Government of the State of Osun to help us to put up memos to our House of Assembly, when they are passing the bill of local government autonomy, teachers salaries and maintenance of schools should not be put in the hands of local council.
The Union handed over several letters which conveyed their pleas to the Commissioner.
According to one of the letters titled, “Request For Audience With NUT On The Issues of Local Government Autonomy” signed by Principal State Secretary, Mr. Abdullahi Mohammed which was sighted by our correspondent, stated that, “The leadership of the National body of NUT Abuja have requested States to seek for audience with the State governor and House of Assembly on the issue of Local Government Autonomy.”
“NUT is against the Autonomy of Local Government because in 1990-1994 when the funding of primary school education was under them, teachers’ salaries was messed up to the extent that teachers were owed 6 to 12 months continuously on purported reasons of “zero allocation”.
“If autonomy will be granted, primary school teachers’ salaries be made first charge from the sources and handed over to State government for payment.”
In his address, the Commissioner assured the NUT members of government’s support for their struggle and ensure that education in the state is not shambles.
He said, “It is your right under democracy to have rally like this and I love this rally because is peaceful and their is no obstruction of any kind.
“Education is the most important factor in any society. If the society is well run we must thank the teachers and those who have make the right decision on education so at no time we should under rate the important of teachers and education.”
“I am happy that your demands is in concern about what will happen to the level of education. As teachers we must first know that Nigeria is called Federal Republic of Nigeria which means “federation”. It is a relationship between one region and the other; the relationship is strictly between the Federal government and the State. Ghana is not a Federal Republic so we do not have that same. Federation that we are being called is not just a wish or title but is what form the foundation of our relationship and if you recollect as teachers that foundation actually came from the federal government and the regions, is single relationship, that relationship is originally between the federal government and the regions which had now been broken down to the State and it has not been changed.
Local government is also important, they are important centres for development and operations. Usually, anywhere in the world what you have is to get development through the local government but it doesn’t go beyond that. While you have stated your case as that of put salary and education on first line charge, it is much more than that. The call for local government autonomy is a call that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world; in any federation because federation is between an entity and second entity. The local government is an entity within and under the state. As a teacher you need to educate people on this and the politicians who do not know, many of them dropped out of your schools and they don’t know and many of them didn’t come to Osun Schools to be properly educated.
Omotunde posited that, the call for local government autonomy is borne out of selfishness, laziness in thinking and planning deficiency.
He said, “The reason for their clamouring is because we all go cap in hand to Abuja to collect money not because they want to use it as avenue for development. The call is not driven by development focus but greed and lack of vision. Those who know and don’t want to agree we won’t allow them to disrupt this country.