By Bimbola Oyesola , [email protected]
Members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) for three days last week embarked on a peaceful protest to demand equal rights and treatment with the teaching staff on years of service and welfare.
This is against the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement of new incentives for teachers in public basic and secondary schools in Nigeria during the Teachers’ Day in October 2020.
Consequently, the union has warned that failure of the Federal Government to heed their demand may lead to withdrawal of services by their members nationwide.
The federal government had excluded non-teaching staff in a planned legislation to extend the retirement age of teachers to 65 years and the years of service to 40 years from the current 35 years, as well as special salary scale and enhanced allowances.
The members of the union had commenced the three days protest on Monday and ended the nationwide protest on Wednesday.
The union’s members in Lagos led by Adetunji Ademisoye have said that they are also qualified for the new incentives proposed for teachers in public basic and secondary schools in Nigeria by the federal government.
While the protests last, the workers visited the Governor’s office, State Assembly, Lagos State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to submit their papers and registered their displeasure.
Speaking at the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), Deputy General Secretary of NASU, Adetunji Ademisoye said it was important for the government to include their members into the proposed incentives for teachers across the country as it would have been impossible for the teachers to succeed without the Non Academic Staff.
“We started this protest three days ago across the country to press home our demands. This is because what is good for the goose is also good for the gander,” he said.
He expressed that the Non Academic Staff are equally more qualified as the teachers, adding that the teachers were in support of their agitation.
He noted that the protest which held simultaneously across the 36 states of the federation was to prepare the states ahead of the Bill from the National Assembly for states domestication.
He listed other demands of the union to include replacement of their members that have retired or died as their vacuum now makes the remaining staff to be overburden.
The union’s Chairman for Post Primary, Elewuro Olusegun explained further that the union went to TESCOM to register their displeasure over President Buhari’s statement by elongating teacher’s tenure including some incentives while non-teaching staff were exempted.
“We want to be included in whatever benefits given to the teachers. When there’s shortage of teachers NASU members have been doing the work of teachers, but now when it’s time for reward our members are being excluded,” he lamented.
In her response, TESCOM Chairman, Mrs. Elizabeth Ariyo said that Lagos is for equity and that it will never carry last, adding that the welfare of members of NASU were their priority.
She assured NASU that everybody would be taken care of at the implementation stage.
“The bill is still at the initial stage, but it is good you are registering your grievances. Now that you have spoken, the government will consider your demands, there is no doubt about it. We should all pray to be alive to enjoy the benefits,” she added.
Igabasanmi Dennis, Chairman of NASU’s Primary school Board, who spoke at State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) insisted that the essence of the protest was to speak against the pronouncement of President Muhammau Buhari on the proposed incentive for teachers.
According to him, “the policy of the government must not create discrimination between the teaching and non-teaching staff. On the basis of this, when the bill is signed, it will be domesticated and it will become law. We want to remind the government that there are non-teaching staff that complement the works of the teachers.”
He however, expressed gratitude to SUBEB for upgrading the qualified members of NASU.
On the issue of school security, NASU called for more hands to watch over schools in the state in order to secure the lives of the students.
Addressing the workers, SUBEB Chairman, Wahab Alawiye-King applauded NASU for the peaceful protest, saying that their demands would be looked into.