Teachers of public Primary Schools in Ondo State have joined their counterparts across the country to protest against the proposed autonomy of Local Government Councils in Nigeria.

The teachers who spoke under the auspices of their trade union, the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, described attempts to hand-over payment of salaries of Primary School teachers to Local Governments as a ploy to plunge basic education, which is universally acknowledged as rights of children, to the doldrums in Nigeria.

The State Secretary of the Union Comrade Solomon Igbelowowa who spoke at a peaceful rally to the Governor’s Office in Akure proposed that the percentage share of states from the Federation Account be reviewed upwards to guarantee uninterrupted funding of primary school education including payment of teachers at the basic level.

He stated that the National Executive Council ,NEC, of NUT, at its meeting held in Kaduna, reappraised the issue of management and funding of primary education and the responsibility for payment of primary school teachers and appealed to State Governors to address the issue which over the years, has generated a seeming confusion and has caused setbacks to the all-important education sub-sector.

“Between 1990 and 1994, when primary education came under the control of the Local Governments, the school system witnessed poor funding and total neglect which led to industrial crises because the Local Government Councils failed to accord primary education the priority of place it deserved.

“The Local Government Councils also failed to contribute their mandatory 15% of the teachers emolument to the pension fund meant for the payment of teachers pension and gratuities, which had made the school system deteriorate to a state of dysfunction and near collapse”,the Secretary said

Comrade Igbelowowa who stated that the NUT was not outrightly against Local Government autonomy, noted that the union was concerned about the likelihood of scrapping the State Joint Local Government Accounts, which would mean taking primary education back to the pre-1994 dark era.

He lamented the inability of Local Councils to provide the needed funds for payment of salaries which accounted for reasons why teachers are being owed salaries for months in some states, thereby making teachers hopelessly demoralised.

“It is against this backdrop that we wish to re-affirm our position and call that the payment of salaries of Primary School teachers be taken over by State Governments in order to prevent the education sector from imminent collapse”, he said.

He also appealed to the Ondo State Governor in particular to use his exalted position and influence among his fellow governors to support the union’s humble submission towards the management of primary education for the benefit of children of the state in particular and of the nation in general.

Responding the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, commended the teachers for the peaceful rally, noting that their fundamental rights were central in the protest as provided for in a constitutional democracy.

Governor Akeredolu who said that rallies are features of democracy lauded members of the union for taking the civilised step towards making their agitations known.

The Governor however disagreed with the teachers for suggesting that the Federal Government should take charge of the funding of Primary School Education through the Universal Basic Education Commission.

He enjoined them to brainstorm deeply before taking a position otherwise decisions not well-thought-out could be counterproductive as in the case of adding more responsibilities to the Federal Government when there is ongoing agitation for devolution of powers to the states.

Earlier the State Chairman of NUT, Comrade Victor Amoko had presented a copy of the unions letter to the governor who expressed optimism that it will be given utmost attention at the national level.