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NUT Election: Stop Victimisation of Radical Teachers in Ajeromi Ifelodun

March 31, 2009

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) condemns the arbitrary redeployment of Segun Ajayi, the third vice chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) branch and five other radical teachers out of the local government by the state government in connivance the leadership of the union. We demand that Lagos government should reverse its action.

The affected teachers have been transferred in order to prevent the emergence of a radical leadership at the Ajeromi Ifelodun branch of NUT.  Segun Ajayi, a well known socialist teacher, is contesting the office First Vice Chairman in the NUT election coming up on Tuesday April 7, 2009 across the local governments in Lagos State.

According to the official letters dated March 31, 2009 and handed to the teachers, the redeployment was on the order of the Deputy Governor, who is also in charge of education in the state. No other reason was given. This reprehensible action of the state government on the request of the quisling leadership of the union at both local and state levels is a clear-cut partisan involvement of the government in the union matters. It is also a clear case of victimization of radical teachers in the state.

The recent NUT strike that was shamefully called off by the state executive of the union has radicalized the rank and file teachers in Ajeromi Ifelodun. At the branch meeting called after the calling off, the teachers strongly condemned the action of the union leaders and demanded their removal from office. The incoming union election provides the opportunity for teachers to achieve this. The five teachers transferred, in addition to Segun Ajayi, were those that spoke at the branch meeting.

It is also significant to recall that it was only Ajeromi Ifelodun where public meetings were held to drive home teachers’ demand during strike as against the directive of the state leadership to teachers to stay at home. This swimming against the reactionary tide of union leaders was not unconnected to the political influence of Segun Ajayi and other radical teachers in the local government branch of NUT.

It will be recalled that the strike was called off without securing concrete commitment from the state government on the implementation of the 27.5% pay rise for the teachers. The union leaders had echoed the argument of government on the slump in revenue occasioned by global economic crisis, along with the threat of mass retrenchment of teachers by the government, as the reason for chickening out of the strike. This has shown that the leadership of the union whose State Chairman, Michael Alogba, also doubles as the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Lagos State is prepared to make teachers and other workers to pay the price of the global economic crisis. Whereas, workers and ordinary people did not enjoy anything fundamentally in terms of living conditions and infrastructure development during the boom.  

Meanwhile, some teachers in the local government organized under United Teachers Forum (UTF) have commenced mass mobilization of teachers to protest against the redeployment. They have been calling for the boycott of the election if the government does not cancel the redeployment.

The CDWR commends the teachers for the steps taken so far in the fight against injustice and meddlesomeness of state government in the affairs of the union. We however call on them to mobilize the support of teachers in other local government areas and progressive organizations in this struggle.

We call on the national leaderships of NLC and NUT to intervene on the matter on the side of the mass of teachers and their victimized colleagues. This victimization must not be allowed to stay.

Rufus Olusesan

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