Ofonime Honesty, Uyo
Teachers in Akwa Ibom State under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) have urged the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Senator Bassey Albert Akpan to pay attention to the welfare of workers if elected as governor of the state.
The leadership of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Akwa Ibom State Wing at a meeting held with Senator Albert at the Teachers House, 14B IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, lamented non-payment of entitlements and poor working environment.
Setting the tone for the meeting, a veteran labour leader, who doubles as State Chairman of NUT and NLC, Comrade (Elder) Etim Ukpong acknowledged Albert as one whose tenure as the Commissioner of Finance in Akwa Ibom State had availed him with first-hand information on the salaries and welfare packages of Teachers in the State.
“Your coming here is apt. We have long awaited this opportunity to interact with you. We are convinced that with your wealth of experience, your quest to serve as Governor of this state is to see that all those wrongs mated on teachers are corrected. This is the reason we have all resolved to vote for you on Saturday, March 18, 2023,” he stated.
Presenting his address, Senator Bassey Albert, representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District, thanked them for their prayers for him and his family during his incarceration and reiterated his commitment to improving teachers ‘conditions of service.
“As Teachers, it is time for you to step into a very strong and convincing partnership with someone that you are convinced to support based on his antecedents; someone who can ameliorate the plights of teachers. You must be given your rightful place and that is why in our policy on education, we see education as being pivotal to our development and therefore cannot be ignored,” he said.
While speaking on the role of teachers in society, Akpan posited that the welfare of teachers should be addressed by any administration as it is critical to the growth and development of society.
“I believe that there’s no cause worth fighting for than the collective cause of a people. I don’t need to be told about the plight of teachers in Akwa Ibom State. I have been with you for many years and I know the conditions of service. I also know the state of dilapidated infrastructures across the 31 Local Government Areas.
“I believe that your welfare is very important and we intend to address it as soon as we are sworn into office by the grace of God on May 29, 2023,” he expressed.
Responding, the State Chairman of NUT, Comrade Edet O. A. Emenyi thanked Akpan for making out time to meet with teachers in the state despite his busy schedule, especially during this electioneering period.
Emenyi, however, regretted hosting the YPP Gubernatorial Candidate in the severely dilapidated auditorium of the Teachers House.
“We thank you for coming to speak with us. Let me use this opportunity to inundate you with our numerous problems which have become a pandemic. The teachers in Akwa Ibom are faced with numerous problems ranging from non-payment of a 7.5 per cent pension reduction to non-payment of promotion arrears from 2011 – 2017. Permit me to also mention here that when you eventually assume office as governor, you will be inheriting Leave-Grant arrears of 6 years,” he stated.
Presenting a document highlighting the numerous challenges facing the teachers in the state, Comrade Emenyi described as being handicapped by non-payment of their incentives and accused the Udom Emmanuel-led administration of inducing some political bottlenecks to indirectly deny teachers due for promotion the opportunity to benefit from the process.
He questioned the rationale for introducing an examination meant for senior management staff of the core civil service for teachers ‘promotion, the reason why no teacher has been promoted to a Permanent Secretary in recent times, and the dichotomy between the primary and secondary sectors, which has seen secondary school teachers promoted to Level 17 while the primary school teachers are terminated at Level 16.
The NUT State Secretary, Dr Sam Umo Inyang, who delivered the vote thanks affirmed Akpan’s capacity and capability to govern Akwa Ibom State saying no good politician can ignore the population of over 20,000 teachers across the state and their influence in their families and the society at large.
He urged Akpan to remain focused on protecting and defending the mandate of people as will be given on Saturday, March 18, 2023.