Thursday, 1 May 2014

Save Our Souls by Ibrahim Husseini


An Open letter to Governor Idris Wada, Executive Governor of Kogi State.

“Every city should make the common school so rich, so large, so ample, so beautiful in its endowments and so fruitful in its results, that a private school will not be able to live under the drip of it.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Your Excellency Sir,
I greet you in the name of the general discomfort and anger being felt by all the workers in your state, especially PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS.
I wish my letter were on a much more pleasing note as it may interest you to know that this is actually the first time I have written an “open” letter to someone as “distinguished” as yourself. I must take you down memory lane, in order for you to understand my sincere grievances and concerns for the poor teachers of Kogi State, who some of you politicians readily refer to as nuisances.
I may be too young to understand the intricacies and complexities of Kogi politics, but I am not too young to understand the illegality of your oath taking ceremony which was administered by the President, Customary court of appeal; Shuaibu Atadoga instead of the constitutionally recognized Chief Judge of the State; Justice Nasir Ajanah. I have nothing against all of these, as I believe it is fate and destiny at work.
What I find hard to stomach and accept as destiny, is why your administration has chosen to throw education to the gutters. It is on record that in less than two years into your four year term, you have conducted series of “screenings”, five(5) by my last count. Your Excellency Sir, five screening exercises in two years of your administration is too many by any standard and a complete show of cluelessness and corruption on the part of those you have contracted to conduct the exercises with the teachers at the receiving end of it all.
The industrial actions have also gone unchecked either on the basis of non - implementation of the Improved Teachers Salary Scale or the National Minimum Wage. With the last industrial action lasting for a whole term (June 2013 to September 2013). It is no longer news that government primary schools have become day-care centres where parents who cannot afford the “real” schools take their children/wards, which is unfortunate to say the least.
As a result of your administration’s attitude towards education, Kogi now ranks as one of the top investment destination for private school operators with ill-equipped private schools springing up in every nook and cranny of the State.
It is also on record that your government under a fraudulent ICT empowerment scheme sold laptop computers of seventy thousand naira (NGN 70,000) at the rate of one hundred thousand naira (NGN 100,000) after publicly claiming to have approved 10% subsidy on the sale of the laptops to teachers who have been groaning in pain over non-implementation of minimum wage and 27.5% allowance and rising cost of living in Kogi.
Only in January 2014 did your administration approve 65% implementation of the minimum wage for primary school teachers in the state while other workers including secondary school teachers have been enjoying this national “blessing” for two years now. The delay in payment of salaries has also worsened with primary school teachers collecting February 2014 salary in the second week of April 2014, not to talk of the fact that teachers celebrated most religious festivals and holidays of 2013 without pay.
Sir, you can take a covert walk around Lokoja, the state capital and ask ordinary Kogites on the streets what they think of government’s handling of primary education and you will know the extent to which this extremely important sector has been ridiculed during your administration.
Lastly, as it is not in my nature to point out problems without proffering simple solutions. There is still enough time to set things straight;
1. Pay teachers their salaries as at when due
2. Approve 100% implementation of the minimum wage and settle outstanding debts.
3. Conduct a sincere and corrupt free screening to detect ghost teachers within the work force.
4.As a leader, do not feel too big to ask other performing governors the methodology in setting things straight in a system as corrupt as ours.
“The countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow”
Barrack Obama.

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