*WORKERS MUST UNITE TO CHALLENGE IT
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) vehemently condemns the ruthless sack of over 20,000 primary school teachers and local government councils' employees by Governor Nasir El-Rufa'i of Kaduna State. The Governor's determination to sack these workers, despite subsisting order from a court of competent jurisdiction, is a glaring manifestation of insensitivity and impunity that have become the fundamental characters of Nigeria's ruling elites. Plus, it has, once again, exposed him as an unrepentant neo-liberal ideologue. It could be recalled that Mr. El-Rufa'i supervised the criminal transfer of public assets to private interests under the guise of privatization, when he was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
SPN believes that the mass sack is a ploy to shift responsibility for the rot and decay that bedeviled the education sector to the teachers. We contend that the deplorable condition of teaching and learning, lack of modern teaching and learning aides and poor condition of service, among other things, are indisputably the root causes of the decline in the quality of education. For instance, investigation carried out by Jibrin Ibrahim, one of Nigeria's leading civil society activists, revealed that a primary school in Kaduna metropolis has a population of about 22,000 pupils, with an average of 280-300 pupils per class! Most of these pupils sit on bare floor to take lessons. The Kaduna State Government should, therefore, take responsibility of its failure to address these problems rather than victimize the unmotivated workers.
It could be recalled that the Government subjected the primary school teachers to a so-called competency test in order to legitimize this insensitive retrenchment. Teachers were asked questions not relevant to what they teach. For instance, they were asked the names of a former American president, some commissioners in the Governor's cabinet, etc. It was reported that a teacher was penalized for misspelling the Governor's name. Despite this, the pass mark was set at 75%! If Mr. El-Rufa'i were to be subjected to a governance competency test, he would certainly perform worse than the teachers.
SPN commends the workers' unions for their tenacity in resisting this injustice. We urge them to employ all legitimate strategies to fight the struggle to its logical conclusion. These strategies include, in addition to the ongoing legal battle, street protests, strike, among others. SPN also calls on all civil society organizations and labour unions to show solidarity to the sacked workers and, more importantly, to join the Party in its struggles for a just and egalitarian society.
Comrade Mikailu M Tijani
Deputy National Chairperson, North-West