From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 06.26.2008 (THISDAY Newspaper)
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua yesterday met behind closed doors with Minister of Education Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu to find a lasting solution to the lingering problem between the teachers and government over the payment of the harmonised salary across the states.
President Yar’Adua, THISDAY gathered directed the minister to explore all avenues to ensure that the looming strike was averted.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) had on Tuesday fixed Tuesday July 1 for the commencement of an indefinite nationwide strike by all primary and secondary school teachers.
But Aja-Nwachukwu later declared that day that the Federal Government had agreed to implement the Teachers salary Structure (TSS).
Addressing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Minister of Communication and Information John Odey in company with the Minister of Health Hassan Lawal, however, reiterated that the Yar’Adua administration as a responsible one was willing to negotiate with all the stakeholders to ensure that there “is amicable resolution of the problem.”
“I shared your sentiments and as a responsible government, we are very very concerned about the welfare of workers, be they teachers or other workers. The case of the teachers’ demand is being looked at holistically,” Odey said.
He disclosed that negotiations were going on at all levels but warned that it would be impossible for the Federal Government to take decisions for the states and local governments on a uniform salary structure for the aggrieved teachers.
“Consultations are on with states and local government areas in order to arrive on a common solution that will cut across boards and not just in the federal schools alone,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) chaired by President Yar’Adua, has approved N331,824,047.10 for the completion of the laboratory complex at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Idu, Abuja, abandoned since 1996.
Odey said the contract which was the only major decision taken at yesterday’s meeting was awarded in favour of Messrs Atidolf Nigeria Ltd with a completion period of 24 weeks.
He said the construction work of the laboratory complex was a five-storey block laboratory office, space, library and conference hall, adding that the need to complete the building and the significance to the expansion of the services and activities of the institute could not be over-emphasised.
“The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Idu is the centre for various pharmaceutical research works.
“Through research conducted at the centre, a lot of control measures have been instituted in the prevention of sickle cell anaemia, malaria, hypertension, diabetes etc.
“The scope of work required for completion of the laboratory complex include replacing the roof covering that was blown away by storm, plastering, metal and structural steel works, furnishing, external works, electrical works, glazing, painting, decorating laboratory fittings and fixtures, passengers lifts etc,” he said.