Plateau ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in dis­ar­ray as SUBEB owes 5 months salaries

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Hir Joseph, Jos

Em­ploy­ees of the State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Board (SUBEB) in Plateau State have not of­fi­cially de­clared a strike while the board hasn’t re­stricted any of­fi­cial from work, but the board’s build­ing along Bauchi Road in Jos is mostly de­serted and has seen no ac­tiv­ity in re­cent days be­cause of­fi­cials have with­drawn their ser­vices.

The board’s 319 em­ploy­ees who were ini­tially pru­dent and at­tended their daily sched­ules in good time have com­plained of non-pay­ment of salaries and al­lowances thereby mak­ing them suf­fer low morale.

The work­ers un­der the aus­pices of Non Aca­demic Staff Union of Plateau State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Board (NASU) said they have no plan for a strike over their plight but have de­cided to stay away from work and save their trans­port monies be­cause they have not been given salaries for long.

“And why should we go to work when we have not been paid for a long time,” a ju­nior worker said while speak­ing to Daily Trust on phone about the ab­sence of staff on duty.

“Tell gov­ern­ment to pay us, and then we will re­sume work. We are not slaves,” he added.

Daily Trust vis­ited the board’s head­quar­ters twice in two days and in each of the vis­its, few aux­il­iary work­ers were found while nei­ther the se­nior staffers nor the chair­man were around.

In­quiries showed that few mid­dle class and se­nior of­fi­cials go to their of­fices but hardly stay for more than three hours be­fore they leave.

“When there are con­tracts to process, you find them con­tact­ing their sec­re­taries and other staff on how to carry out cer­tain di­rec­tives to en­sure that the con­tracts are done. They don’t have the courage to stop work­ers from not re­port­ing for work. They them­selves come in briefly, and leave,” an­other worker, who would not want to be men­tioned, said.

Chair­man of NASU, Com­rade Amos Gal­adima, con­firmed that his mem­bers have not been paid for five months. He said the work­ers were last paid in Fe­bru­ary 2016. “So, work­ers find it dif­fi­cult to come to work and to also take care of their fam­i­lies,” Gal­adima said, adding that due to the lack of pay­ments, most work­ers have with­drawn their ser­vices. He ap­pealed to the gov­ern­ment to clear the back­log of salary ar­rears so that work­ers can per­form their du­ties dili­gently.

When con­tacted, Head of Public Re­la­tions Of­fice, Mr. Richard Jonah, who spoke on be­half of the Chair­man of the board, Pro­fes­sor Mathew Sule, said that the board was aware of the work­ers’ sit­u­a­tion. He said ef­forts were be­ing made to re­solve the pend­ing is­sue of the un­paid salaries, although he did not say what caused the de­lay. He said the sit­u­a­tion was not un­con­nected to fi­nan­cial prob­lems be­ing faced by many states where civil ser­vants have not been paid salaries for months. He also said that some of­fi­cials have not been re­port­ing for work and that the man­age­ment has a flex­i­ble pol­icy to al­low work­ers stay away from work dur­ing the dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods.

The board was sup­posed to en­sure smooth run­ning of pri­mary schools but with the in­abil­ity of its work­ers to go to work for over five months, it means the in­sti­tu­tion’s su­per­vi­sory role in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion was un­pre­dictable.

A pri­mary school teacher told Daily Trust that most schools too, were fac­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems be­cause teach­ers have not been given salaries for three months.

“The board has not been func­tion­ing be­cause its work­ers won’t go to work on empty stom­ach. So the board’s man­age­ment is in­ca­pable of meet­ing its su­per­vi­sory role on ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in the state. To make mat­ters worse, teach­ers in the state have not been paid for three months now,” the teacher said.

Com­rade Gal­adima said that part of the board’s work was to su­per­vise the teach­ers and aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties in pri­mary schools, con­struct school build­ings and the gen­eral pro­vi­sion of fa­cil­i­ties “but all these ac­tiv­i­ties have come to a halt as a re­sult of non-pay­ment of salaries,” he said.

He said the sit­u­a­tion was fur­ther wors­ened with the de­lay in pay­ment of salaries and other al­lowances of teach­ers, whose ar­rears were run­ning into the fourth month.

The lead­er­ship of the Nige­rian Union of Teach­ers (NUT) in the state has said teach­ers have not been paid for three months.

“We haven’t re­ceived salary for three months now,” Com­rade Gun­shin Yar­lings, the state NUT chair­man said.

A source said one of the li­a­bil­i­ties Gov­er­nor Si­mon Bako La­long in­her­ited was teach­ers’ back­log of salaries ar­rears, which ex­tended to seven months.

An­other source said the trou­ble started when the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov­er­nor Jo­han Jang ap­proved the re­moval of the names of of­fi­cials from the state pay­roll ask­ing the board to pay salary from the schools’ grants. “About N2.8 bil­lion meant for schools was trans­ferred to state ac­count on the or­ders of the for­mer gov­er­nor while the state stopped pay­ing our salaries.”

He said the SUBEB gen­er­ated its monies for the up­keep of school from lo­cal gov­ern­ment grants and will not be enough to pay its work­ers. “We have not re­ceived salaries be­tween Fe­bru­ary and June this year,” he said.

The source said the of­fice of the Head of Ser­vice has re­quested the re­turn of SUBEB’s of­fi­cials to gov­ern­ment’s pay­roll and Gov­er­nor Si­mon La­long had given ap­proval. “We are wait­ing for im­ple­men­ta­tion,” he added.

Daily Trust re­ports that the state gov­ern­ment had cleared more than half of the teach­ers’ salary ar­rears it in­her­ited. Gov­ern­ment had also in­di­cated in­ten­tion to re­cover funds al­legedly stolen from the state by pre­vi­ous lead­ers and so far about N2.7 bil­lion UBE funds was re­cov­ered as an­nounced by the gov­er­nor re­cently. The gov­ern­ment is yet to dis­close the iden­tity of the per­sons from whom the fund was re­cov­ered from but teach­ers have called on the gov­er­nor to use the re­cov­ered money for the pay­ment of their out­stand­ing four months salaries.

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