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Nigerian Teachers Strike Over Pay

Nearly all of Nigeria's government-owned primary and secondary school teachers remained shut Tuesday following an ongoing teachers strike. The teachers launched the strike on Monday to force the government to implement their demand for a pay raise. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja has more in this report for VOA.

The Nigerian Union of Teachers, the umbrella body of primary and secondary school teachers in Nigeria, says it called the strike after the government reneged on its pledge to implement the promised pay deal.

The teachers began the strike Monday following the breakdown of negotiations with the government.

Teachers are some of the lowest paid public sector employees in the oil-rich West African country.

The strike has received the backing of the Nigeria Labor Congress, the country's foremost labor coalition, and several civil society groups.

The chairman of the Nigeria Labor Congress in Lagos state, Michael Olukoya, says the work stoppage will continue till the government accepts the deal.

"Because of the fact that the federal government of this country refused; one, to make use of the 21-day ultimatum and other extensions, the teachers of Nigeria resolved to begin the strike. And indeed the mandate is that there is no retreat no surrender, no going back. It is either we have it now or never. So all schools, all schools shall remain under lock and key," said Olukoya.

Poor remuneration of teachers in Nigeria's public schools has compelled many to move to better-paying private schools.

The teachers went on a three-day strike two weeks ago, shutting down primary and secondary schools, but suspended the action after the government pledged to improve pay.

University and polytechnics teachers are also threatening to embark on an indefinite strike that can cripple Nigeria's education system.

Frequent strikes in public schools have compromised standards and forced many students, who can afford the higher fees, to move to fast-growing private schools or relocate abroad.

The government has appealed to the aggrieved teachers to call off the strike and seek a negotiated solution.