Primary School Teachers in Ondo State have taken a position on the proposed autonomy of local government councils in states, describing it as another avenue to enslave teachers.
The teachers under the auspices of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Ondo State, also said the proposed autonomy is against their right to life and good works in the country.
State Secretary of the union, Comrade Solomon Igbelowowa, made this known during a peaceful rally to the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in his office in Akure at the weekend.
The secretary said that the renewed agitation for local government autonomy that is gathering momentum in Nigeria is another danger waiting to happen.
The peaceful rally by the teachers is a nationwide demonstration decided at the Union's National Executive Council meeting held in Kaduna, following the renewed agitation for local government autonomy.
He proposed that the allocation to States from the Federation Account be reviewed upwards in favour of the states to guarantee uninterrupted primary education in the country.
He stated that the National Executive Council (NEC) of NUT, at its meeting held in Kaduna, re-apraised the issue of management and funding of primary education and the responsibility for payment of primary school teachers, and appealed to State Governors to address the issue which over the years, has generated a seeming confusion and has caused setbacks to the all-important education sub-sector.
"Between 1990 and 1994, when primary education came under the control of the Local Governments, the school system witnessed poor funding and total neglect which led to industrial crises because the Local Government Councils failed to accord primary education the priority of place it deserved.
"The Local Government Councils also failed to contribute their mandatory 15% of the teachers emolument to the pension fund meant for the payment of teachers pension and gratuities, which had made the school system deteriorate to the state of dysfunction and near collapse",he said.
Igbelowowa who stated that the NUT is not totally against Local Government autonomy, noted that the Union is concerned about the likelihood of scrapping the State Joint Local Government Accounts, which would mean taking primary education back to the dark pre-1994 era.
He lamented the inability of the Councils to provide the funds needed for the payment of salaries which accounted for reasons why teachers are being owed salaries for months in some states, thereby creating a situation of demoralisation and hopelessness amongst the teachers.
"It is against this backdrop that we wish to re-affirm our position and call that the payment of salaries of Primary School teachers be taken over by State governments in order to prevent the education sector from imminent collapse", he said.
He also appealed to Governor Akeredolu to use his exalted position and good offices to support the Union's humble submission and as well, redouble his administration's efforts towards the provision and management of primary education for the benefit of the children of the state in particular and of the nation in general.
Reacting to the development, Governor Akeredolu commended the teachers for the peaceful rally, saying they are fighting for their rights.
Akeredolu who noted that demonstration is part of democracy, lauded members of the Union for taking the right step towards making their agitations known.
The Governor who disagreed with the teachers who wanted the Federal Government to take charge of their funding through the Universal Basic Education Commission should state governments be barred, enjoined them to brainstorm deeply on such decision and come up with fundamental steps in the interest of the people.
Earlier, State Chairman of NUT, Victor Amoko, presented a copy of their letter to the Governor who expressed optimism that it will be given utmost attention at the national level.