The Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has joined the campaign of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) to advocate against transfer of primary education funding and management to the local government tier.
Mr Jerry Nnubia, the Chairman of NULGE in Anambra, told the Newsmen in Awka on Sunday that the NUT demand did not contradict its call for political autonomy of the councils.
The NUT in the state led by its chairman, Mr Ifeanyi Ofodile, on June 28 urged their members nationwide to join the campaign against transfer of primary schools to local governments.
Ofodile lamented the rot in the primary school system under local governments and wondered why their fate should be entrusted to them again when about 19 states were not even up to date in the payment of teachers’ salaries.
Nnubia said that it would be a great injustice to the nation’s education sector if primary education was left for the councils alone as the situation was already deteriorating.
He said primary education deserved priority, adding that its funding should be in the first line charge.
“Our demand for local government autonomy is clear as it concerns the funding of primary schools and payment of teachers.
“Funding and management of primary schools as well as payment of teachers should be made a first line charge by the Federal Government even before the states share among the tiers of government.
“NULGE wants to make it clear that primary education funding is not solely in the hands of the local government.
“ There is a Supreme Court judgment which states that local governments’ role in funding primary education is participatory.
“That means that states and Federal Government have roles to play and the Supreme Court could not have given a judgment that contradicts the constitution.
“NULGE is particularly concerned about the standard of primary education which is the foundation.
“ As it is currently run, the federal and state government cannot look away from it.
“So, NULGE is with NUT in this advocacy; there is need for proper funding for primary education and it does not in any way stop the democratic and financial autonomy which we are demanding.
“If primary school teachers are asking for autonomy or separate board and that is what will make the system efficient, let them have it.,” he said.
Nnubia, who is also the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Anambra, said workers were still awaiting Gov. Willie Obiano to address their May Day demands.
He said workers endorsed Obiano in the hope that he would enhance the working condition of members in the state while expressing disappointment that he tied their wage upgrade to increase in IGR.
“Labour in Anambra endorsed our governor because he has shown a lot of goodwill; he has been regular in the payment of salaries, leave allowance and other largesse.
“We also told him that the endorsement was based on the hope and belief that he is going to increase our salaries like we have always demanded.
“ The endorsement was not free of charge.
“We are not regretting anything; we are still expecting the governor to respond to our May Day demands.