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Our strike not politically motivated – Edo NUT tells Obaseki

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The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Edo on Wednesday said that the 19-day old strike it recently suspended in the state was not politically motivated to derail the state government’s educational programmes.

The union said this in a communiqué issued at the end of an enlarged State Executive Council meeting, which was jointly signed by its Chairman, Pius Okhueleigbe; the Assistant Secretary General, Moni Mike, and three others.

A copy of the communique made available to our reporter in Benin, said it was reacting to remarks credited to Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo at a recent public function in Benin.

Recall that Obaseki had on Monday during the launch of “Let’s Go to School and ‘Parent’s First’ campaigns” in Benin, blamed the industrial action by the union on a section of its leadership that wanted to continue to politicise education.

The governor said “let me make it clear that we do not have any problem or challenge with our teachers.

“The 11,000 teachers that we have trained for the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) programme are amazing.

“We have worked together and grown together in the last few years.

“They have been very supportive, but unfortunately, what you saw the last time was not the teachers.

“It was a part of the leadership of their union that has become political.

“The union wants to play politics with the lives of our children; we have no problem with our teachers in Edo.

“We have a problem with a section of the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) that wants to continue to politicise education.

“They want to derail what we have started with EdoBEST in the name of politics, and I have said that as the governor of Edo, who was popularly elected by Edo people, I am ready to fight with anybody that wants to joke with the lives of the school children.

“We are not going to negotiate lawlessness; we are not going to be intimated; we are ready to fight as long as you want to derail EdoBEST”.

But refuting the governor’s claim, the union explained that the state government was given two months notice to attend to the demands of the teachers.

It added that the strike was the last resort following the failure of the government to meet its demands which was subsequently suspended on Feb. 5.

“At the end of the enlarged meeting SWEC-In- session, the union re-affirmed that the state leadership of the union is never in anyway being used politically to derail the programmes of Edo State Government as claimed in some quarters.

“The state government was given eight weeks to attend to the demands of teachers.

“Failure on the side of government to do so, led to the strike action that was eventually suspended on Feb. 5,” the communique read in part.

The union, however, called on the state government not to use the suspended strike to victimise members of the union.

Usman Aliyu

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