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Nigerian Teachers Strike Enters Second Week

in Nigeria, children continue to stay home and parents are unhappy, with the strike called by the Nigerian Union of Teachers in its second week. The educators express frustration at what they say is the government's refusal to give them an approved pay increase called the Teachers' Salary Structure. Government officials say the increase is not part of the budget and has requested that the issue be resolved in next year's budget.

Abraham Haruna Danduk is the general secretary of the senior staff at the Association of Nigeria Polytechnics. VOA English to Africa reporter Chinedu Offor asked him what the authorities have to do to end the strike and get children back to classes.

"There is just no alternative to it other than for them to pay. You could not have entered into an agreement with a group of people and at the point of implementation, you start giving excuses because there was a strike action which generated a lot of heat. But finally government decided to call these people to discussion and we negotiated with them, we entered into an agreement with them. That has been a long history in this country, you enter into an agreement with people and you refuse to honor such agreement. It does not speak well; it is irresponsible of government."

He says the government's defense that it lacks the funds to pay the teachers is hollow because of the flashy life-style of its officials. "We are all aware of the economic meltdown that is affecting almost everywhere, but we equally see the level of corruption that is going on in the system. These are the same people who tell us there is no money, but you see the affluence with which they live and they live with reckless abandon, so much display of wealth. So how do you want us to understand with government?"

Danduk says while teachers are aware of the pains of parents, the strike is necessary to enable the teacher [to educate] the children. "There are quite a number of them that do understand the position of the teachers because over time they know for how long it took government to invite the teachers to a dialogue. It was after a long strike action."