By G9ija

Teachers of demonstration primary and secondary schools in Rivers State have threatened to embark on an indefinite strike to protest against their five years unpaid salaries if the state government fails to address their grievances within a month.

Giving the ultimatum under the aegis of Rivers Civil Society Organisations (RIVSCO), they appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike to settle their unpaid salaries, failing which the 250 affected teachers would protest on the streets of Port Harcourt and other cities in the state.

The affected schools are, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education Demonstration Secondary School, Ndele, Seashell Model Primary School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State University International Secondary and Staff Schools, Port Harcourt and Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic Comprehensive Secondary School, Bori.x

In a statement issued yesterday in Port Harcourt by executive member of RIVSCO, Enefaa Georgewill, the group noted that Governor Wike had sanctioned members of the academic union of the schools for flouting his ‘No-School-Fees’ order five years ago.

He directed that teachers of the affected schools, who were collecting school fees from parents when the state government had said otherwise, should be delisted from the monthly payroll.

Following the development, Governor Wike vowed that the state government would no longer pay the affected teachers or take responsibility for their allowances.

However, the directive excluded the non-academic staff members of the schools, as they had been receiving their monthly salaries like other civil servants in the state government employ.

Georgewill lamented that all efforts to appeal to the governor to forgive them and lift the ban on their salaries failed, appealing that the governor should tamper justice with mercy and release the salaries, saying the CSOs gave him one month to pay up the arrears or face protests.

“We join the over 250 teachers who are workers of the state government to plead with Governor Wike to review his decision on their monthly remunerations and pay up their five-year unpaid salaries.

“The workers have suffered hardship and deaths of their members within the period this has been going on. We want to ask the governor to look back. These are Rivers people and the school fees they allegedly collected were not given to them. They have families, children and spouses, most of who are the breadwinners of their families, while some are widows.

“In the light of these, we give the government until the middle of March to pay them the arrears or we will mobilise all groups and civil society groups to the streets to stage peaceful demonstrations until the teachers are paid,” he stated.

Also speaking, a representative of Ndele and Seashell staff schools, who craved anonymity, confirmed that no fewer than 11 of their members had died since the governor’s decision five years ago and pleaded with Wike to rescind his decision and pay them their salaries, insisting that they were only demanding their rights.