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Striking Nigerian Teachers Aim For Private  Schools Closure

Nigerian teachers have threatened to shut down private schools that refuse to join their three-day-old strike over pay and working conditions.

The Nigerian Union of Teachers says the law empowers it to take the necessary steps to ensure that its members comply with all strike notices. Federal authorities say the union’s actions are illegal and will be resisted. English to Africa reporter Chinedu Offor reached Ikpe Obong, general secretary of the union, for an update on the strike. He says the union is pleased with the response by its members. “For now we have a total compliance from the teachers of the primary and secondary school nationwide.”

Obong says government’s threat to take some action against the union for allegedly forcing teachers to join the strike will not stop officials from doing what law requires. “The law, the trade union’s act in Nigeria, gives the Nigerian Union of Teachers the jurisdictional scope of covering teachers in educational institutions of all types, and therefore any teachers that fall within the primary and secondary school sector fall within our own arena. And the law did not differentiate whether it should be public or private and so we believe that as a professional group, a professional teacher in private school is also a professional teacher in public school, so there is no difference. The law also allows us to picket.”

He says the union, contrary to government claims, is not forcing those who are not members of the union from opting out of the strike.“ We understand such sentiments, but you know that in everything, there is need for people to be adequately educated. Some people may not even know what is on ground and we would have had some difficulties giving notices on time. We are talking of teachers throughout all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and it is a very vast land. Some of them may not even understand that we have taken up something they have all been yearning for.”