Imagine this o! Despite the fact that teachers strike has led to the suspension of the NECO exam, and other activities affected the Minister of Education, Aja Nwachukwu has said government is not perturbed by the three-day warning strike embarked upon by members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, describing it as a non-issue because is not about “we are not in any popularity contest with any body”.
The Minister who spoke in between the briefing of State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said the federal government will not negotiate with the teachers because “it is not the mandate” of the federal government to fix salaries for teachers in secondary and primary schools.
“The teachers don’t have any basis to go on strike because Education is on the concurrent list (in the constitution) and by right, the states and local governments are in charge of secondary and primary education. We (Federal government) are going to enhance the salaries of teachers in federal government colleges but on the issue of negotiating with the teachers, we don’t have anything to do with that”.
Nwachukwu stressed that the federal government cannot negotiate with the teachers since “we don’t know the ability of the states to pay. We insist that the teachers should go to their various states to negotiate their salaries. It is not our mandate to do so”
He said if the ministry was invited as arbiters, it would respond, but “we cannot interfere in the affairs of the state”.
He advised Nigerians to stop being emotional about issues “but to go back and read their constitution” in order to know the role of the various tiers of government.
He said rather than blame the federal government for being non-committal to the plight of Nigerian student who have been deprived of attending school for three days, Nigerians should blame the teachers for embarking on an unnecessary strike.
The Minister of Information and Communication, John Odey however said negotiations were on going. “Negotiation is on going with the union and the ministry. Council received briefing and as far as we are concerned as a government we will want to maintain a cordial relationship with all the unions. The purpose of government is to provide good livelihood for the people and the workers and as such we will not see that as confrontational, we will adopt best method ever to make sure it is resolved”, he said.
Why will he be perturbed? He has always been privilaged all his lives. His father was a former education minister in this country and he has been appointed because of his privilage background to the same office and yet he is unperturbed about the plight of our education system! If Yar'Adua allows this man to continue as Minister I'll also take it that he is against the progress of our education system.
God help us!