Primary teachers in Edo State on Monday made good their threat to embark on an indefinite strike action as they defied the state government directive to resume schools.
Their decision to steer clear of the school premises is hinged on the directive of the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
This was in spite of the “no work, no pay” threat by the state government, which warned that those who refuse to resume work as directed by Governor Godwin Obaseki, would forfeit their salaries.
In most of the schools visited by the Nigerian Tribune Monday morning, while a handful of students showed up, their teachers stayed off the school premises, thus paralysing academic activities.
However, some staff of the Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) were sighted addressing pupils in some schools.
As at 8.15 am, the gates of the Ugbihoko Primary school, Upper Ekenwan Road, were locked, with no single teacher around, just as a handful of the students were sighted on the dusty road.
In Ogbe Primary school, the gate of the school was initially shut and some pupils were loitering around the area until men of the Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) came and forced the gate open to allow pupils into the empty premises. The pupils present about twenty were led to a classroom by an official said to have come from the LGEA.
The same scenario played out at Asoro primary school along Sokponba Road, where a PUWOV personnel was seen standing by the gate just as a classroom was opened for pupils and a lady attended to them. The lady refused to identify herself as either a teacher or SUBEB official.
At Emokpae Model Primary School, along Mission Road, only four females suspected to be teachers were sighted at the school while pupils were seen in two classrooms. One of the suspected teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they chose to obey the state government order for the sake of the children.
Agbado Primary School, along Akpakpava Road, was empty of pupils, with only three staff who said they were not members of NUT, but from SUBEB and LGEA, on the ground waiting for any resuming pupils. Same was at Igbesamwan Model Primary School, off Akpakpava Road, where four suspected staff from SUBEB and LGEA were in the school, attending to the few pupils that were present in the school.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, was sighted at Emokpae Model Primary School as part of the monitoring exercise to enforce the compliance of teachers to the state government resumption directive.
Ogie, while addressing the four female teachers urged them to carry out their duty, adding that it was not a crime for some people to protest but it was also not right for the protesters to deprive others from carrying out their duties.
“I am here to ensure that nobody disturbs you, people. Anybody has a right to protest or agitate but you cannot ask others that are ready to work not to work,” he said.
Reports from Edo North, Edo Central and the Iyeke Orihiomwon axis of the state indicated that the public primary schools in the areas complied with the NUT strike directive. Areas such as Auchi, Owan East, Ovia South- West, Ovia North-East Local Government Ares recorded 100 percent NUT compliance.
At Azama Primary School, Jattu, for instance, Nigerian Tribune gathered that the headmistress was not on duty, with only one teacher present at 9:49 am when journalists in the locality visited the school.
Same scenario was said of Ebienafe Primary School in Auchi, where pupils were seen loitering around the school premises.
And at Omogba Primary, Uzairue, the pupils were already on their way home at 11:06 am when the Council Chairman, Hon Imonofi Inusa visited the school as there were no teachers present to coordinate their affairs.
Inusa who expressed sadness at the development, said “I have told the security agencies to go round and check that the schools’ properties are intact and that nobody should tamper with them.
“My message to the teachers is that by tomorrow if they fail to report to a school, we shall know the necessary action to take,” he warned.
Speaking with newsmen, the Assistant Secretary-General of NUT, Edo State, Moni Mike Modesty Itua, described the strike as a total across the 18 local government areas of the state.
He commended teachers for the total compliance, urged them to remain resolute in the fight for freedom until otherwise directed by the union.