• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Teachers in misery over states’ refusal to pay N30,000 minimum wage

Teachers in misery over states’ refusal to pay N30,000 minimum wage

Teachers in primary and secondary schools in 20 states are groaning as the governments have yet to pay the minimum wage of N30,000.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the National Minimum Wage Act into law three years ago, but many state governors have either totally refused to implement it or partially done so to the detriment of the civil servants in their various states.

BusinessDay’s findings show that primary and secondary school teachers in at least 15 states are yet to benefit from the law. The states include Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Gombe, Niger, Borno, Sokoto, Anambra, Imo, Benue, Taraba, Rivers, and Zamfara.

Kogi, Cross River, Kaduna, and Yobe have also not implemented the new law but are paying the N18,000 minimum wage of 2011.

“Life is so terrible for teachers here; though our salary is promptly paid, it comes with heavy deductions without any explanations. Besides, for about eight years now, there has not been any promotion. What they are doing is paper documentation with no implementations,” Margret Ordu, a teacher in a secondary school under the Rivers State Education Management Board, said.

The situation in Enugu State is even worse as teachers at the primary school cadre are said to be on strike for months, and there are plans for their secondary school colleagues and employees of the local government authority to join the strike by September if the state government fails to address the issue.

Janet Udenta, a primary school in Aninri Local Government Area of the state, told BusinessDay that the teachers first went on strike on April 19, but called off the strike in June when the state government promised to address the issue.

However, when the teachers’ hope of receiving their salary with the minimum wage implementation was dashed, they had no choice but to embark on an indefinite strike.

“Right now we are on an indefinite strike, which has lasted for two months and by September, if the minimum wage issue is not addressed, our secondary school colleagues and other employees of the LGA will join the strike, and that will totally paralyse the primary and secondary education sector in Enugu State,” she said.

In Abia State, the story is the same as the minimum wage is not implemented, and teachers are owed salaries both at the primary and secondary education levels.

For Oguejiofor Anthony, a teacher in Imo State, though the state government is yet to implement the minimum wage for teachers, they are not planning to go on strike but will definitely join the labour union if such a plan comes up.

Read also: Teachers in 21 states earn below N30,000 minimum wage

With the inflation surge in the country, many are worried that the teachers might find it difficult to cope, and that this would affect the standard of education at the grassroots level.

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate accelerated in July to 19.64 percent, the highest level since September 2005.

“The standard of living is poor, in the sense that many of the teachers live on debt; before the month ends, the debt on the ground is more than the salary that is coming. Most of them have their children in public schools because they are living from hand to mouth,” Bolanle Afolabi, a teacher in Kwara State, said.

“If the government fails to address their minimum wage issue, many will lose their passion for the job or even face their side hustles to make ends meet, which in the long run will affect the children,” she added.

Boye Ogundele, an educationist, told BusinessDay that due to the poor remuneration in the education sector in many states, it is difficult to expect any excellent performance in either internal or external examinations.

According to Ogundele, the N30,000 minimum wage is not even enough for a teacher.

“Buy a bag of local rice at N26,000.00 and use the remaining N4,000 for other items. Definitely, there will be malpractice in schools. The economy is not friendly at all,” he said.

For Oluchi Chukwuma-Ojei, a teacher, the inability of some of the state governments to implement the minimum is breeding nothing but poverty.

“Teachers are living below standard; hardly can they afford basic needs of life, and will, without doubt, affect their education delivery,” she said.

The states that have fully implemented the wage increase are Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Plateau as well as the Federal Capital Territory.