Hundreds of primary and secondary school teachers from the Rivers State Government-owned tertiary institutions, on Wednesday, protested in front of the Government House and demanded the payment of their five years salaries.
The protesters, who were joined by their former students, family members, and members of civil society organisations, blocked an entrance to the Government House, saying it was unfair for the government to continue to withhold their money, especially after the court had ordered the payment of the same.
The teachers are from the Rivers State University International Demonstration Secondary School, Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Port Harcourt; Ignatius Ajuru University of Education’s Staff Primary and Secondary School, Ndele; and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic’s Staff Primary and Secondary School, Bori.
The teachers, who arrived at the Government House around 9 am displayed placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘Government is not a personal thing’, ‘Our teachers deserve better treatment, pay them their salaries, ‘God is against injustice, please pay our teachers’ salaries’, and ‘Wike, ease our pain and save our education sector’.
Addressing journalists during the protest, the Chairman, Rivers State Civil Society Organisations, Enefea Georgewill, expressed sadness at the attitude of the state government for withholding the teachers’ salaries for up to five years.
Georgewill said, “We condemn in the strongest terms the attitude of the governor towards the teachers. How can the governor, Nyesom Wike, donate N500m to the Sokoto State Government over a fire incident that engulfed a market whereas teachers in his state are being owed five-year arrears of salaries?”
He appealed to the governor to come to the teachers’ aid as they had been experiencing severe hardship and unable to take care of their families, adding that Wike was a beneficiary of teachers’ training.
Georgewill stated that the protest would continue on a monthly basis until teachers’ salaries were fully paid.
Speaking on behalf of the teachers, Mr Collins Spiff, said they had resolved to continue the protest until the governor attended to their matter.
He stated, “It’s unfortunate that we are in a country where people don’t appreciate peace. Violators are those rather placed on payrolls and paid every month, while nobody cares about the law-abiding ones.
“More than 26 teachers have died so far over the non-payment of their salaries; the governor should comply with the court order and pay us.”
No official of the government was available to address the protesting teachers as of the time our correspondent left the protest venue.