From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Primary School teachers in Edo State public schools today defied the state government’s directive to resume schools and instead stayed away from the schools on the directive of state chapter of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
Some of the public primary schools visited by our Correspndents were bereft of normal academic activities even as some staff of the local government education authority and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) were seen addressing pupils in some schools.
In Ogbe Primary School, Benin City, the gate of the school was initially shut and some pupils were loitering around the area until men of the Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) came and forced it open to allow pupils into the empty premises. The pupils who were present were about 20 and were led to a classroom by an official said to have come from the local government education authority .
Teachers also shunned duty at Asoro primary school along Sokponba Road, Benin City. At the time of the visit, a PUWOV personnel was standing by the gate while a classroom was opened for pupils with a lady attending to them. The lady however refused to identify herself whether she was a teacher or SUBEB official.
At Emokpae Model Primary School, along Mission Road, Benin City, only four females suspected to be teachers were sighted at the school while pupils were seen in two classrooms.
One of the teachers who declined to reveal her identity, said they obeyed the state government order for the sake of the children.
The strike was total at Agbado Primary School, along Akpakpava road as there were no pupils in the school at the time of the visit. But three staff of SUBEB and local government education authority were on ground waiting for any resuming pupils.
At Igbesamwan Model Primary School, off Akpakpava road, four suspected staff from SUBEB and local Government education authority who were in the school said they attended to few pupils that were present in the school.
Meanwhile, Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie was sighted at Emokpae Model Primary School as part of monitoring the compliance of teachers to the state government resumption directive.
Addressing the teachers, Ogie urged them to carry out their duty, saying that it was not a crime for some people to protest, just as he said it was also not right for the protesters to deprive others from carrying out their duty.
“I am here to ensure that nobody disturbs you people. Anybody has a right to protest or agitate but you cannot ask others that are ready to work not to work”, he said.
Teachers in Public Primary Schools in other parts of the state such as Auchi, Owan East, Ovia South- West, Ovia North-East local government areas complied with the NUT strike directive.
At Azama Primary School, Jattu, the Headmistress was not on duty. Only one teacher was present at 9:49 am when journalists visited the school.
The situation was the same at Ebienafe Primary School in Auchi where pupils were seen loitering around the school premises.
At Omogba Primary, Uzairue, the pupils were already on their way home at 11:06 am when the Council Chairman Hon Imonofi Inusa visited the school as there were no teachers present to coordinate their affairs.
The Council Chairman while expresing anger over the situation said “I have told the security agencies to go round and check that the schools’ properties are intact and that nobody should tamper with them.
“My message to the teachers is that, by tomorrow if they fail to report to school, we shall know the necessary action to take”.
The Assistant Secretary General of NUT, Edo State, Moni Mike Modesty Itua, described the strike as total across the 18 local government areas.
Moni Mike, who spoke to journalists, commended the teachers for the total compliance and urged them to remain resolute in the fight for freedom until otherwise directed by the union.