The national leadership of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) has demanded the immediate reversal of the sacking of 2,357 of its members in Kaduna State by governor Nasir el-Rufai.
It alleged that the whole concept of competency test which the Kaduna State Government relied on to sack 2,357 teachers in the state last week was “designed to achieve its inglorious aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.”
The National Executive Council of the union, at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, threatened to declare strike across the country in solidarity with teachers in Kaduna if the state government fail to act açcording to the demand.
Recall that the Kaduna State Government, last weekend announced the sack of 2,357 including the National President of NUT, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, allegedly for failing competency and failing to appear for the test.
NUT Deputy President, Kelvin Nwankwo,who led members of the union’s National Executive Council, to the media conference, declared the action of el-Rufai as null and void.
The union declared that its president, did not fail competency test as alleged by the Kaduna State Government.
Insisting that the Kaduna State Government’s action must be reversed, he threatened that in event of failure, strike would become an option to press home the union’s demand.
“You know our members are well dedicated people. This is the only union that does not have one illiterate among us. Remember that because of the competency test issue, we went to court, we are law abiding citizens and we felt that is the only way we can resolve this. But if it becomes necessary that we must go on strike,it would be a nation-wide strike”, he declared.
The union alleged that Governor El-Rufai action was aimed at intimidating the NUT President and embarrass the teachers in Nigeria, even as it said the action was a strategy by the governor not to pay or owe workers their salaries.
It tasked the governor to rather embark on continuous teacher training programme, which it noted, would at the end of the day, “improve knowledge and service delivery by teachers in public schools in Kaduna State as obtains in other professions such as Nursing, Medicine and Law.”
“The very concept of competency test is an aberration and absurd having regards to the fact that the teachers in Kaduna State have prior to their recruitment in the state public service, attended schools and institutions statutorily saddled with the responsibility of teacher education and these institutions have certified them to be competent, fit and proper to be teachers,” it said.
It added: “In addition, the same Kaduna State Government had subjected the teachers to scrutiny and test to ensure their suitability or otherwise for employment as teachers before they were recruited by it.”
“It is in the context of the above that the whole concept of a competency test which is only peculiar to Kaduna State is akin to a cocktail of absurdities and leaves a sour taste in the mouth, thereby validating the position of NUT that the intentions of the Kaduna State Government on this issue is everything but altruistic,” the NUT further said.
Açcording to the NUT Deputy President, “Kaduna State is the second most indebted state in Nigeria and the state government is on a free roller coaster move to satisfy the conditionalities handed down to it by its creditors, which normally includes down sizing of the public service without even the remotest regards to our peculiar circumstances.”
A prepared text read to newsmen by the NUT Deputy President, read in part: “The whole concept of competency test was designed by the Kaduna State Government to achieve its inglorious aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.
“Otherwise, how else can one attempt a rationalization of the fact that the same Kaduna State Government in the year 2018 dismissed/retired in one swoop 21,780 teachers purportedly for not passing its unilaterally and arbitrarily administered competency test and purportedly in replacement thereof recruited about 20,000 new teachers, who according to it were subjected to vigorous test and confirmed to be competent before they were recruited into the Kaduna State Public Service.
“In accordance with the Kaduna State Public/Civil Service Rules, these purported 20,000 teachers were employed on a temporary basis and placed on a one year probationary period.
“Their appointments were to be made permanent and pensionable after the one year probationary period. However, rather regrettably five years down the line, these teachers are still under temporary appointment with the result that the Kaduna State Government can whimsically and shamelessly ask them to leave the public service without any terminal related benefits.
“These selfsame 20,000 constitute the bulk of the 2,357 teachers, who are said not to have passed the latest in the series of competency test in Kaduna State.”
The NUT claimed that “the manifest intention of the Kaduna State Government is to prey on the rather unfortunate existing non employment status of our teeming school leavers by recruiting them as teachers only to subsequently subject them to the raw deal it subjected the purported 20,000 teachers, thereby achieving its aim of casualization of the teaching profession in Kaduna State.”
The union also said the case of its dear President, Amba, clearly establishes the fact that the whole concept of competency test in Kaduna State is arbitrary and lacking in certainty.
“He was not dismissed then for failure to write the competency test. The question that readily agitates the mind in the circumstance is, what has changed in 2021/2022?
“It is also rather very sad and curious that the dismissal letter relative to the NUT President was in the Public domain via the social media even when it has not been served on him.
“The intention clearly is to intimidate the NUT President and embarrass the Teachers in Nigeria. This like other anti labour and people policies of the Kaduna State Government has failed on arrival. We got news for His Excellency Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai and his co-travelers to wit:- power is transient,” the union stated.
“NUT therefore, reaffirmed its commitment to stand with its revered President, Comrade Audu Titus Amba and all the teachers in Kaduna State, who have fallen victim of the anti-labour policies in Kaduna State and which policies have defied all logic and lacking in milk of human kindness,” it further said.