Teachers protesting their five years unpaid salaries at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, on Wednesday
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The about 255 unpaid teachers of Primary and School Schools of Rivers State owned Tertiary Institutions, Wednesday turned the state Government House into a prayerground for God’s intervention in their matter.
The teachers who are still active in service but allegedly denied five years salaries, after protesting to the Rivers State House Assembly to lodge their complaint for solution, marched to the state Government House in Port Harcourt where they commenced on petition prayer to God to soften the heart of the Governor on their plea.
It would be recalled that the aggrieved teachers had accused the Governor, Nyesom Wike of expunging their names from the state government salary voucher about five years now.
The unpaid teachers were from Ignatius Ajuru University of Education Demonstration Secondary School, Ndele and Seashell Model Primary School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State University International Secondary and Staff Schools, Port Harcourt and Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic Comprehensive Secondary School, Bori in Khana Local Government Area.
The teachers are demanding that the state Governor should obey the National Industrial Court Order that directed that they should be paid their salaries and the subsequent order of the Court of Appeal in Owerri, which acknowledged them as genuine and qualified teachers of the state owned schools, thereby urged the state Governor also to pay the teachers their outstanding salaries.
The placards carrying teachers during protest at the Government House, Port Harcourt recalled that the National Industrial Court had on June 13, 2018, delivered the judgement in their favour, stating that “the Governor’s directive stopping the payment of teachers salaries is unlawful, null and void”.
The teachers also revealed that the state government appealed the judgement, adding that the appeal was struck out on October 31, 2020 by Justice Ita G. Mbaba led court of Appeal in Owerri over lack of merit.
Chairman of Rivers State Civil Society Organisations (RIVCSO), Mr Enefaa Georgewill, who spoke during the protest urged the state Governor to look at the plight of the teachers and pay them years of their unpaid salaries.
He said “The Governor refused to obey court judgement that stated that the teachers deserve their wages and are qualified staff of the schools under the management of the state government.
“It is shocking that the Governor who is a product of the Law did not respect the court order. The court directed that the Rivers State Government or its agents should not tamper with the teachers salaries”.
Enefaa assured that “In as much as the teachers are ready to come to the Government House every month to demand for their salaries, the civil society organisation will continue to support them until the right thing is done”.
Also speaking, Mr Golden Spiff, disclosed that he has written several letters and complaints to the Governor on the issue to no avail.
He stressed that “In the state attention is not given to education and teachers”.
He further dislosed that since the allegedly Governor stopped the payment of the teachers five years, they have lost about 25 teachers to different illnesses.
He urged the wife of the Governor, Justice Suzzett Eberechi Nyesom Wike to solicit on behalf of the unpaid teachers for her husband to pay them their salaries.
At the Assembly complex, the Clark of the House, Mr Standford Oba who received them assured to relate their matter to the Speaker, Hon Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani.
Also at the s Government House Port Harcourt, the teachers were addressed by the Camp Commandant of Government House, SP Irikefe who commended the protesters for their peaceful movement. He assured that the Governor would hear their cry and attend to their request.