The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Ondo State has called on the federal government to hand over the management of primary schools to state governments.
The union’s demand came after the federal government introduced a local government autonomy plan that gave local government administrations control over primary school education.
NUT Secretary Solomon Igbelowowa spoke on Friday during a peaceful protest at the Alagbaka Government Office in Akure, the state capital.
SaharaReporters gathered that the union members walked from their state secretariat along Oda Road to the governor's office while carrying banners and chanting solidarity and anti-government songs.
Mr. Igbelowowa explained that the primary education system in the country has witnessed poor funding, underdevelopment and total neglect since it has been under the control of the local government system.
He said that the union could not afford to continue to tie the fate of the teachers and pupils under the primary education sector to the local government councils.
Mr. Igbelowowa added that the local government administrations have over the years showed they lack the financial capacity and commitment to shoulder the responsibility of managing primary education.
"It is on the above premises that we feel most comfortable to call for the handover of the payment of salaries of primary school teachers to state governments as a way of pulling the dwindling primary school system out of the woods,” the union leader said.
"In mind with this call, we also wish to propose that the allocation to states from the federation account be reviewed upwards in favor of the states to guarantee uninterrupted primary education in the country.
"Alternatively, we demand that salaries of primary school teachers be paid through the universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) from the first line charge from federation account.”
He added that primary school teachers are owed several months’ worth of salaries due to the inability of the local governments to provide needed funds for the primary school staff.
The NUT secretary stated that such untoward development also portends a great danger for the public primary education system and the future of the mass of underdeveloped children in the country.
"It is against this backdrop that we wish to reaffirm our position and call that the payment of salaries of primary school teachers be taken over by the state governments in order to prevent the education sector from imminent collapse," Mr. Igbelowowa added.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who received the protesters, called for the devolution of powers among the three tiers of government in the country.
Mr. Akeredolu said the federal government should devolve more power to the state in order to manage its own sectors and resources.
"The state government must be allowed to be in control and manage its own resources," he said.
A SaharaReporters correspondent later reported that the NUT union leaders presented a position paper on their agitations to the governor.