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Benue teachers threaten strike over mass demotion

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Benue State has threatened to downsize if the government fails to restore promotions and all the arrears of…

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Benue State has threatened to downsize if the government fails to restore promotions and all the arrears of consolidated enhanced allowances removed from their May and June 2023 salaries among other demands.

State Chairman of NUT, Comrade Levi Terna Akuma, in a telephone conversation with journalists in Makurdi on Tuesday, emphasised that their promotions were legally carried out by the past administration.

“It is not politics,” Akuma said.

Our correspondent reports that the union already issued the state government a 48-hour ultimatum which elapsed on Wednesday to right the ‘noticeable’ wrongs they have observed in the two months’ salaries paid to them a few days ago.

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Earlier, a communique issued after the Union’s emergency State Executive Council meeting in Makurdi which was signed by its State Chairman, Comrade Levi Terna Akuma and the State Acting Secretary, Comrade Jeremiah Ochonu, called on Governor Hyacinth Alia to restore all the promotions of teachers which it reversed and direct the payment of their arrears within the stipulated time.

The union lamented the nature of payment of May and June 2023 salaries to primary school teachers in the state which according to the communique was carried out with massive demotion of all teachers on salary grade levels which they have been enjoying since their last promotion of 2021 and the implementation in February 2022.

The body rejected the removal of consolidated enhanced allowances for all professional teachers totalling 27 per cent for all grade levels seven to 16 which was approved by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum In 2008 and implemented in Benue State in January 2010.

They also contended the delay in the release of the circular on tenure elongation of primary school teachers (40 years of service and 65 years of chronological age) as spelt by Harmonized Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria, Act 2022 through a circular letter which was domesticated, assented and gazetted by the Benue State Government among other things.

The union also faulted the removal of the alleged 2500 ghost workers from payroll as they urged the state government to release the names of all those removed from the Payment Vouchers of May and June 2023 for clarity.

Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has called on Governor Alia to heed the ultimatum of the NUT and reverse all the decisions he has taken which it said are clearly not in the interest of the state.

State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Bemgba Iortyom, said, “No responsible government wakes up and at the whim of the governor reverses conditions of labour relations which are the product of law and operative nationwide, just like that.”

It would be recalled that the state governor, Alia intimated last week, that his administration successfully in the first phase of its ongoing probe removed 2500 ghost workers from payroll, thereby saving the sum of N1.2billion and reducing teachers’ way 1bills from N1.6billon to N800million.

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