It is no longer news that the education of our primary school pupils, which is the bedrock of development in every society, and for which Delta State was once proud, is now undergoing serious threat under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration.
The government has been churning out innumerable anti-teacher policies for some time now, and it is obvious that Okowa either wants teachers to remain in abject poverty or does not really care about how pupils in public schools will secure a strong stepping-stone to a brighter future.
The reasons for coming to these conclusions are not far-fetched.
Since his assumption of duty as Governor, Okowa has been seriously pre-occupied with a systemic exercise that seems to have one singular objective; which is to reduce teachers’ salaries.
Governor Okowa set up a screening exercise that was ordinarily supposed to help in making the teachers more effective, but in essence, it has become a ploy to undermine the teachers.
This exercise has been used to pave the way for the implementation of obnoxious deductions from teachers’ meager salaries.
These continuous deductions are unwarranted, wicked and mostly unjustifiable; and have resulted in avoidable crisis that has sent both teachers and our children out of public schools.
As we speak, our public primary and secondary schools are under lock and key as a result of the strike action embarked upon by the teachers.
The Governor did not need to wait for public school teachers to go on strike, before attempting to right the wrongs that he pioneered.
Who can stand the pain of watching a child been deprived of education?
Has the Governor become so insensitive to matters of relevance to the people he governs?
To rub this in, he ordered the demotion of a large number of Primary School Teachers from Level 12 to 10, and many others from Level 9 to 8; yet he has not convinced the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and teachers themselves of the rationale for these demotions.
The teachers have shouted themselves hoarse at these oppressive and authoritarian policies of Gov. Okowa to no avail.
Not done, he imposed the cost of a laptop on each teacher and ordered further illegal deduction of monies from their paltry salaries to cover the cost without seeking their express consent.
It has been suggested, and this is quite nauseating, that these laptops were supplied by one of Okowa’s acolytes at hyper-inflated prices, and this further pauperizes these long-suffering and “down-trodden” teachers.
At the end of every month, and after these illegal deductions, teachers are left with barely anything to cope with the typical challenges of life.
Additionally, Okowa has stopped paying teachers legal emoluments such as Leave Transport Grant and Promotion arrears, and has not paid teachers’ salaries since December 2016, which makes it obvious that Gov. Okowa’s agenda will surely push dedicated school teachers off the cliff.
These policies are very draconian, inhuman and unacceptable.
Teachers and their families in Delta State are now in a state of despair wondering whether this government has any human milk of kindness.
Okowa’s government is obviously so self-centred and it is not working in the interest of Deltans; rather it is constantly looking for ways and means of “obtaining” more money to fund its selfish agenda.
Evidence already abound that Okowa does not have the interest of Deltans at heart.
The people are aware of how he has been emasculating DESOPADEC, the only agency of the state government that was set up to work specifically in the interest of oil-producing communities and give them a sense of belonging.
Therefore, his actions against teachers are not so surprising.
Notwithstanding these challenges, Okowa has been raising a super toast to his political cliques and followers.
This action of his makes it clear that he has a disdain for the working class in Delta State. Civil servants owned salaries without end; therefore they continue to experience the brunt of this misrule.
The question that comes to mind is: What has Gov. Okowa done with the tons of money that have been accruing to Delta State monthly from the Federation Account and the vast internally generated revenue?
What happened to the bail-out funds from the Federal Government and the London-Paris Club loan refunds that were made available to cushion the pain of our teachers, civil servants and pensioners?
What happened to the billions of Naira allocated to DESOPADEC that may have been “assigned” to some bogus projects and probably siphoned through the back door?
The “thirst-for-money” by this present government cannot be quenched. It now seeks internally-generated revenue (IGR) by way of rent and multiple taxation of businesses which goes as low as “keke-riders” (tricycle), commercial drivers, micro and small businesses.
And this has made life so unbearable for Deltans!