by Segun Odeleye
For eight months, teachers in Benue primary schools embarked on a strike action, and all that time, primary school pupils in the state stayed at home. About a month ago, there was some good news as the teachers’ union announced that it had reached an amicable settlement with the state government and so had decided to call off its strike. It however has become a case being described as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Gov. Gabriel Suswam decided that in order to end the teachers’ strike, he would slash the salaries of other workers in the civil service so as to pay the minimum wage to teachers. Expectedly, both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) kicked against such a solution and yesterday they embarked on an indefinite strike action.
All across Benue state, everything was shut down – schools, markets, offices.
The workers are demanding an immediate reversal of the decision to slash salaries. Apart from that, they are demanding that the Benue government should refund excess tax deductions from its members since 2011 and refund all deductions made in respect of the National Housing Fund.
The story was the same in all 24 local government areas in the state – shut government offices and markets under lock and key. The affected markets are those operated by the state government. Neither shop owners nor buyers were allowed to enter.
Some students and office workers that unknowingly arrived for work were pursued out of the places, just as the water Board authority could not supply water for public consumption.