Primary and secondary school teachers from Rivers State tertiary institutions, yesterday, blocked the entrance gate to Government House, Port Harcourt, in protest against non-payment of their five-year salary arrears.
The teachers drawn from the Rivers State University International Demonstration Secondary School, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo in Port Harcourt, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education Staff Primary and Secondary School, Ndele, and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic Staff Primary and Secondary School, Bori.
Former students of the institutions, family members, and civil society organisations joined the rally, insisting that government’s continued indebtedness to the teachers, especially after the court had ordered payment of the arrears was unfair.
Some of the placards bore inscriptions such as “Government Is Not A Personal Thing; Our Teachers Deserve Better Treatment, Pay Them Their Salaries; God Is Against Injustice, Please Pay The Teachers’ Salaries and Wike Ease Our Pains And Save The Education Sector, among others.
Chairman, Rivers State Civil Society Organisations, Enefea Georgewill, said withholding the teachers’ salaries for up to five years was sad.
“We condemn the attitude of the governor towards the teachers. How can Governor Nyesom Wike donate N500 million to the Sokoto State Government over a fire incident that engulfed a market whereas teachers in his state are being owed five-year salary arrears?” He asked.
He, however, appealed to the governor to assist the teachers, whom he said, had been experiencing severe hardship and unable to cater for their families, reminding him that he was a beneficiary of teachers’ training.
Georgewill stated that the protests would continue every month until their salaries were fully paid.
Speaking on behalf of the teachers, Collins Spiff, said the teachers had resolved to continue the protest until Governor Wike did the needful, noting that they were presently living in pains and anguish.
“It is unfortunate we are in a country where people don’t appreciate peace. Violators are rather placed on payrolls and are paid every month, while nobody cares about the law-abiding citizens.
“No fewer than 26 teachers have died so far from non-payment of salaries. Governor Wike should comply with the court orders and pay us,” he said.
As at the time of filing this report, no government official was available to address the protesting teachers.