“Delay is the deadliest form of denial” – C. Northcote Parkinson
It was as if a deafening shot had harassed the quietude of a jungle, rousing the cries of offended birds. They came in droves, swift, intensely vocal, and sounded loud and clear their message, then slithered out of the scene.
The above metaphorical scenario was manifested on Thursday 25th May 2017 at the main entrance of Idongesit Nkanga Sectretariat in Uyo. Indeed, the place was overtaken by flurry of protesting activities by the flux of teachers absorbed from six community schools into mainstream state secondary education system in January 2013. It would be recalled that the state government-led by Chief Godswill Akpabio had mandated the State Secondary Education Board to take over six community schools in line with requests by their proprietors. These include Unity Model School, Obontong, Nsit Ibom LGA; Community Secondary School, Obio Ediene, Ikono LGA; Iwerre Community Secondary School, Ini LGA; Afaha High School, Ikot Udo Mbang, Ukanafun LGA; Ikono Anang Comprehensive Secondary High School, Etim Ekpo LGA; and Comprehensive High School, Ikpe Mbak Eyop, Obot Akara LGA.
At the secretariat, these aggrieved persons demonstrated with placards bearing various inscriptions that read, “5 years Unpaid Salary”, “We Are Hungry Pay Us, “Pay Us Our Outstanding Since 2013”, “Pay Us Our Salary No To Endless Screening”, and so on. They have so far endured a five-year moribund period of their lives inundated with screenings. Indeed, they have altogether witnessed monologue years mainly characterized by lack of remuneration while still having to cope with rigours of teaching profession.
All this while, the absorbed teachers were coping with disobliging silence of the state government over the issue until some recent development stirred up the hornet nest, and hell broke loose. The scrimmage took another twist when the government officials caused to be announced on the radio that only those whose names were earlier been announced were invited to come for the screening exercise, while the remaining persons were advised to steer clear from the venue of the exercise.
This announcement frayed their temper, and protest erupted as the teachers maintained that names shortlisted for the screening by the State Secondary Education Board, SSEB, were not the genuine teachers from the absorbed schools. It was reported that, out of 478 teachers that were absorbed, less than 150 were shortlisted. In their message to the state government through their spokesperson, Mr. Uwem Bassey, the aggrieved teachers categorically stated their total rejection of the process that led to the announcement of the shortlisted names on the radio describing it as faulty and a lopsided arrangement.
In clear terms, Bassey held that if Akwa Ibom State government does not want to absorb them, then let them be paid off. According to him, “We can no longer wait, we don’t have time again because we have been waiting for over four years, and nothing has happened.”
Many protesters further connected their various messages to a singular theme that their predicament is a project which Udom Emmanuel should commission at his second anniversary on May 29, Oh God.
It is absolutely grotesque to see these people working and suffering at the same time for that number of years without earning anything as reward. In fact, registering discontent at this time when the nation is thrown into the gaiety of democracy cerebration is something that significantly brings ignominy to both the democracy and Udom’s government. Therefore, the state government has to end its scrumptious excuses over this fiasco, and be proactive in fixing its insalubrious image towards teachers.
Yes I am UbongAbasi Ise. For Comment, Send SMS to 08189914609