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."