The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the Kaduna State Government fails to reverse the decision to sack 2,357 teachers, including its national president, Audu Amba.
Newsmen report that the union made its position known on Wednesday during its National Executive Council meeting which was held in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory (FCT).
The union’s Deputy National President, Kelvin Nwankwo, said the sack followed refusal by the president and some teachers to write a competency test organised by the Kaduna State Government, among other reasons.
“It is very sad and curious that the dismissal letter relative to the NUT President was in the Public domain via the social media even when it has not been served on him.
“The intention clearly is to intimidate the NUT President and embarrass the teachers in Nigeria,” Mr Nwankwo said.
The union reiterated its commitment to stand by the president and other sacked teachers in the state.
“The NUT family reaffirms its commitment to stand with its revered president, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, and all the teachers in Kaduna State.
“The union will continue to perform its historical role of defending the rights of teachers in Nigeria and no amount of anti labour policies of the Kaduna State Government and elsewhere can diminish this resolve,” he added.
The union stated that rather than issue dismissal letters, the government ought to have explored the option of training and retraining to improve the competency of teachers.
“We are teachers and best suited to know the concept of test administration which is a settled and accepted tool for the assessment of the performance of a learner in his or her educational career.
“However, this lofty tool has been maliciously bastardised and abused in Kaduna State.
“It has been deployed as an instrument of vendetta targeted at labour leaders, who dared to perform their statutory and historical role of advocating the advancement of the welfare of teachers.
“The National Executive Council (NEC) of our great Union in good faith had in accordance with international best practices in the teaching profession advocated that the Kaduna State Government should rather embark on a continuous teacher training programme.
“This is what obtains in other professions such as Nursing, Medicine and Law,” the union further said.
NUT, which noted that about 21,780 teachers were dismissed or retired in 2018, said the recent sack was one too many.
“It is pertinent to state that the Kaduna State Government’s purported Competency Test was held during the pendency of Suit No NICN/54/2021 before the National Industrial Court, Kaduna Division.
“Furthermore, the purported dismissal of 2,357 teachers was done during the pendency of another Motion on Notice,” NUT said.
It said the motion sought for an order restraining the Kaduna State Government from dismissing any teacher in the public schools in Kaduna State for not writing and or passing its competency test.
The Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (KADSUBEB), the government agency in charge of basic education funding and management in the state, had on Sunday announced the dismissal of 2,357 teachers.
It said the decision was taken over the failure of the teachers to take part in the recently conducted competency test organised by the government.
The government had introduced the competency test for teachers in the state some years ago. The development led to the dismissal of 21,780 teachers in 2018 reportedly for failure to pass the test.
The government, however, recruited 25,000 others to replace them.
Since 2018, the state government has continued to organise tests for the teachers to test their competency and professionalism.
But in 2021, the government said 27,662 teachers took part in the test but that a total of 165 of the figure performed woefully and were sacked.
The government agency’s spokesperson, Hauwa Mohammed, in a statement announcing the dismissal, said 2,192 primary school teachers including Mr Amba, had been dismissed for refusing to sit for the competency test.