Delta NUT Ushers In New Leadership

IT is arguable, and plausibly so, that statistics
have shown that, to a very great extent,
the teacher has experienced
a checquered history in his /her chosen
career of imparting knowledge and character
on the pupils /students
who have passed through their tutelage and mentorship.
This incontrovertible fact can be attested to by the myriad of negative indices such as unfair and inexplicable delay in the payment of their salaries, allowances and claims, inconsistent education policies by policy formulators, dearth of working infrastructure and in some cases, utter neglect and disregard for this critical sector by successive governments, and wait for it, a society convulsed, demonstrably, by unbridled thirst for materialism!.
Organized Labour To The Rescue?
As a shield to the above listed distortions experience
by the teacher, it was expected that labour would have risen to the occasion by acting to keep government on its toes so as to respect mutual agreements reached between it (government) and teachers via their union, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT). But sadly enough, not much was achieved by labour in this regard.
The Imoudu, Sonmu NLC Till Date
Quite unfortunately, after the late Pa Michael Imoudu or Somonu NLC era where government was made to honour agreements or else meet with appropriate sanctions such as “sit at home order”, “warning strike”, or even mass organized labour protests, the successive leadership of labour could not sustain the Imoudu legacy of independent mindedness and non compromise. Sadly, from the Paschal Bafyau era, successive labour leaders, rather than ensuring that resolutions reached were implemented to the letter and the government of the day listened and acted after round table discussions
between both parties, began to yield to the allure of lucre, and in no distant time, an era of compromise set in, to the consternation of union members who had elected them.
As a consequence, therefore, it was fashionable to hear lexicon such as “suspension of industrial action” creep in stealthily after they (labour leaders)
had held nocturnal meetings with government officials, against earlier resolutions reached to embark on the strike till government acceded to its demands.
Splits In Labour Unions
In no distant time, having whittled the powers of the various labour Unions and desirous of holding it by the jugular and render it toothless, the governments succeeded in ensuring the division of labour. Herein opened the floodgate and what we now have is amalgamation. The Trade Union Congress (TUC), emerged from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), ditto the emergence of Classroom Teachers Association from the Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT) and so on and so forth. The list is endless and also its effect on germane workers agitation is better imagined than described.
The Delta Nut Elections, A Ray Of Hope For Teachers?
With the expiration of the four (4) year term of the Comrade
Jonathan Jemirieyigbe led State wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT),the State stage was set, at the 6th (7th)State Delegates Conference,
for teachers across the 25 Local Government areas of the State, to converge in Asaba, the State capital, to elect a new Executive body that will not only pilot their affairs, but give them the much desired leadership that will ensure their welfare for the next four years.
But to set the ball rolling for the event, the outgoing Chairman, Comrade Jonathan Jemirieyigbe, delivered his welcome address to the gathering that had Governor Okowa (who was represented by Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie), as special Guest of honuor. While also welcoming, the Delta State Head of Service, Mr. Reginald Bayoko, the National President
of NUT, Comrade Mike Alogba Olukoya, the Acting Secretary General, Comrade Ike Ene and labour leaders from both the NLC and TUC, Boards of Education (PPEB/SUBEB) and indeed delegates from the 25 LGAs of the State, the outgoing Chairman called on the State government
to urgently look into the welfare of teachers, both at primary and secondary levels, as according to him “is still yearning for better attention in some areas, viz,
1) Prompt promotions
2) Prompt payment of salaries
3) Poor working environment
4) Outstanding benefits of teachers.etc
All of these have contributed to the low socio- economic
status of the teachers at both levels. Worse still, is the plight of our primary school teachers in the state.
“While declaring the conference open Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was represented by Mr. Chiedu Ebie, Commissioner
for Basic and Secondary Education, under scored the importance of education, quality education, without which we cannot develop and would not move forward as a state”
Governor Okowa who stated that the theme of the Quadrennial Delegates Conference, “Improved Welfare of Teachers: An Imperative for National Development” is apt, added that no nation can develop above the quality of its teachers.
In Delta State, the Governor said with a total of 18,355 Primary School teachers and corresponding number of 16,065 in Secondary Schools across the State, their welfare,
including the payment of salaries and sundry obligations
of teachers have continually occupied centre stage in his administration.
He disclosed that government has commenced preliminary
activities and plans at developing the Teachers Professional Development Centre (TDPC) which, upon completion, would help to improve the professional
efficiency of the teachers within and beyond the shores of the State. This, he said, will assist in updating and retooling the Professional
competence of the teachers and inculcating
in them the core professional values which are in tandem with global best practices.
The Governor who listed the challenges facing the education sector to include ageing infrastructure, huge wage bills, economic recession due to nose diving of oil prices and poor revenue generation
from taxes, however
said that government
would continue to support the NUT in its task of ensuring efficient
and effective education
management.
At the end of the speeches, it was time for the business of the day which commenced with the dissolution of the Comrade Jonathan Jemirieyigbe led Executive
body in accordance
with laid down guidelines for conduct of elections.
The venue of the elections
which was crowded
due to the number of delegates and the excitement
and anticipation that the elections elicited was amply secured with the presence of security agencies deployed to the venue .
After the long and tedious process which was adjudged
demonstrably, to be free, fair and credible, and conducted by Chief A John Agbe, Idris Jamiu Ola, Maimuna Garba and Musa. G. Ali , respectively, as Returning officers, the results were declared.
Chairman
2) Itiveh Aziano Moses – Deputy Chairman
Acceptance Speech
After the emotions of agony of defeat and thrill of victory had subsided, and after the new Executive
body had subscribed to the relevant oaths of office, the New State Chairman, Comrade Okotie Titus, in his acceptance speech, assured teachers in the State that, among others, he will not betray the confidence they have reposed in him, that he will justify the confidence through effective representation
and selfless services to the teachers of Delta State.
For the State Government, he assured them that “my election is indeed a new dawn for liberation of teachers and the overall development of the state. In this regard, may I, on behalf of the entire teachers in Delta State, express my profound gratitude to the state Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa for creating a favourable atmosphere for the successful hosting of this Conference that ushered in this elected Exco today
under my leadership”.
Tall Order Before The Newly Elected Delta Nut Chairman
What played out on that historic
election day of Wednesday July 19, 2017 indicates, forcefully,
that every situation, no matter how challenging, has an expiry date. The newly elected Number One teacher in Delta, Comrade Okotie Titus should literally “hit the ground running”
and shun distractions such as courtesy and solidarity visits, frivolous award ceremonies and the like.
From what played out at the NUT elections, it is crystal clear that Okotie emerged as a result of the protest votes from the majority of delegates who stood resolute and were on one page that their Union MUST not be hijacked by external forces who were bent on having their way to muzzle the leadership
when crucial decisions would be made.
Okotie should religiously articulate his work plan around the well thought out resolutions reached at the end of the 6th Quadrennial (7th State) Delegates Conference of the Union. Among the resolutions was that the State government should accord utmost priority to the welfare of teachers for the overall development of the State since no nation (State), can develop above the level of its teachers.
It also noted that to ensure a dependable educational
system in the State, motivation of teachers, prompt payment of their salaries, as well as general improvement of the working conditions of teachers
as pre-requisite for national development is imperative for government’s implementation.
Also, Okotie must sensitize the State Government
to revisit the issue of stagnation of University graduate teachers in the State Primary School system
on salary grade level 14 that in some states of the federation, such set of teachers have risen to Salary grade level 17. Also among the tall orders of the Comrade Okotie Titus led NUT, Delta State wing, is the lingering demand of NUT for government
to extend the retirement age of teachers in the primary and secondary school systems to 65 years as presently being enjoyed by university lecturers and judges.
Another thorny issue before the newly elected leadership is the non implementation of the 2002 Supreme Court Ruling on the issue of funding of primary education which states that funding of primary education is the direct responsibility of the state government while the local government participates. This is in line with the position of NUT in treating, the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries as first line charge from the Federation account to save the primary school system from imminent collapse evidenced by the many months salary arrears being owed primary schools teachers. The resolution also commended Governor Okowa for the giant strides his administration
has recorded so far in the education sector and urged him to maintain the tempo in the overall development of the state.
Conclusion
Yours sincerely, Comrade Osita Biose as an educationist
and journalist, calls on the newly elected Chairman of NUT, Delta State Wing, Comrade Okotie Titus, to see the government of Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa as a partner in the education sector. He should put machinery in motion to strengthen the bonds of collaboration between Delta NUT and government. On the flip side, however, while it should not be a “Jaw- Jaw” situation, he should not lose sight of the fact that confidence was reposed
in him by the teachers of the State, hence his electoral victory. At the end of his four year term, he should have been seen to have made the teachers proud.
I rest my submission, Delta NUT Chair!