As children resume school tomorrow in Lagos , the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has expressed fears that the additional N11 billion budget appropriated for Lagos State last week had failed to cater for key issues like the looming teachers’ strike.
Teachers have sworn to embark on another strike to make the government fulfil an earlier promise to implement the Teachers’ Salary Structure.
Noting that the government had failed to factor in this particular demand and related educational issues into the reviewed budget, DPA noted that instead state officials had lately made pronouncements that no such demands would be heeded this year.
The party also challenged the Action Congress government in the state to render a Naira-by-Naira breakdown of expenses in the current N405 billion budget, saying spending so far had failed to make appreciable impact on Lagosians in the last one year.
“Doctors have been on strike, school teachers have downed tools and the state’s solely-owned university has broken down since the beginning of the year and the government says it needs more money; where did all the money go?” Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina. “The roads are still bad; infrastructure is still poor, except for some high-profit capital projects, and yet the government says it wants to reshuffle its spending pattern –in September?”
Pointing out that the state was yet to implement the Teachers’ Salary Structure agreed with their union, the party challenged the House of Assembly, which passed the Appropriation Bill, to return to the drawing board to preempt the looming strike. DPA thought the Legislature ought to be more proactive and to take seriously its oversight function in order to make the government responsible and accountable to the benefit of the people.
The party especially wanted the government to tell the world what portion of the new appropriation it was devoting to trimming overcrowding in classrooms that sometimes recorded over 120 students per class. The United Nations recommends a pupil-teacher ratio of 1:25 .
“Agreement is agreement; and agreements must be honoured,” DPA said.
However, the party urged teachers to tread the path of dialogue rather than embark on strike, saying, innocent school children would end up the ultimate victims. DPA urged both parties to sit together to iron out their differences at a negotiation table.
It especially condemned as insensitive, reckless and dare-devilish the approach the government employed by going on air to announce it had put on hold till next year the earlier agreements reached with the Nigerian Union of Teachers.
“The government officials should have been more sensitive and diplomatic in handing such a nutty and weighty matter,” DPA said. “They should have called the union to a secret meeting to divulge that information.”
Declaring as strange the fact other commissioners in the Lagos cabinet had been responsible for revealing the state’s unwillingness to heed the NUT demands, the party reiterated its view that the Deputy Governor had proved incapable of coping with the two caps she currently wore, especially that of running the Ministry of Education.
Director of Publicity, Lagos DPA