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Civil Society Groups Write Governor Wike To Pay 7 Years Salaries Owed Rivers Teachers

March 23, 2023

An open letter signed by the chairman of the group, Mr Enefaa Georgewill, said many of the teachers have died awaiting the payment of the arrears.

A coalition of civil society groups, Rivers State Civil Society Organisations, has pleaded with Governor Nyesom Wike to pay seven years arrears of teachers of staff schools of state-owned tertiary institutions.

An open letter signed by the chairman of the group, Mr Enefaa Georgewill, said many of the teachers have died awaiting the payment of the arrears.

He added that their defendants have dropped out of school while some are very ill with no proper medication.

Georgewill appealed to the state governor to consider the hardship being experienced by the teachers, coupled with the harsh economy.

The letter read, “Your Excellency, we recall that for a long time now that the Rivers State Civil Society Organization has championed the advocacy both within Rivers State and Nationally for the State Government to offset and payoff arrears of salary of Teachers of Staff Schools of Rivers State owned Tertiary Institutions. These teachers had their salaries stopped by the State Government shortly after your first tenure was inaugurated on May 29th 2015 for the years following, these Rivers Men and Women, Fathers and Mothers with dependants (children of school age, aged and sick parents, medical attention, etc.) have not received any salary nor allowance till date. Some of these teachers have put in over 25 to 30 years of their lives to the service of this State.

“What is worst? Aside from these teachers, every other category of staff in the school is still being paid by the Rivers State Government because they were all employed by the Rivers State Government just like any other category of staff in these tertiary institutions. 

"For the purpose of clarity, your Excellency, these dying teachers neither collects school fees or fix price of the school fees. Those who collects and fix the fees from the students, are still being paid by the Rivers State Government till date. 

"These teachers are dying daily and some are being evicted from their rented apartment by their landlords. In some cases, both parents are teaching in same school and their children are sent out of their schools because they can't afford their fees. Ninety percent of them are Rivers people- Your people you have always said you love so much.

“As law abiding citizens, they took their matter to the industrial court and won the Rivers State Government. Surprisedly, the Rivers State Government appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal on the same day the Industrial Court entered judgment in favor of these indigent teachers.

“It is on record that on the 30th day of October 2020, the court of appeal struck out an appeal filed by your government for lack of proper filing while fighting the case of the Teachers. It is surprisingly that despite all the court judgments that your government have refused, neglected and is unwilling to pay the teachers their salary or obey any of the court orders emanating from the litigations for two whole years.

“We hear the Rivers State Government only re-approached the Court of Appeal in 2022 to grant it leave to appeal for the second time after our organisation led these teachers in protest to the NBA Annual Conference held in Rivers State and after agents of the Rivers State Government promised the then Commissioner of Police that your government will resolve the matter amicably if the protest is called off.

“This is unexpected from a democratically elected government not the least from a man who is a victim of injustice and oppression of which he has raised alarm globally decrying same and insisting on due process and the rule of law to be the watch word of politics and governance in our democracy in Nigeria.

“Your Excellency, it is much more depressing and a conduct unexpected from a man occupying the exalted office of the governor of Rivers State, a Christian in a Christian State and a beneficiary of landmark judgments that silenced and set aside human conspiracy, political rascality, impunity and lawlessness targeted to destroy him and his political career to turn around and treat a well-considered judgment of the court with ignominy and disdain for two whole years. We all know your government going back to the Court of Appeal for the second time is just to waste the time of these hungry and pauperized Teachers from Rivers State.

“This is much more embarrassing and a conduct unbecoming of a member of the apex legal institution - the Honorable Body of Benchers and a member of the prestigious Nigerian Bar for upwards of twenty-five (25) years.”

“Though many of them have died and many of their dependents dropped out of school and others with a bleak future. But Sir, it’s better late than never. The good story of their payment and the relief it will bring to their lives will be a good reference point, a credit to your political career and an imprint left in the sands of time, a legacy worthy of reference and emulation by politicians and leaders of Rivers State that will come after you.

“Paying the salaries of these teachers, will present you as a leader that cares and not a weak man. Our organisation or the leadership of these teachers will equally not take the glory. It will be a plus to your already known magnanimity and love for your people. We equally understand the financial challenges competing needs have on the State's resources and will advise a payment plan be discussed as it is convenient for your government,” it added.