Primary and secondary school teachers of the Rivers State-owned Demonstration Schools on Wednesday occupied the entrance of the State Government house in Port Harcourt in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for five years.
The teachers and former students of the Demonstration Schools staged the protest in collaboration with the Rivers State Civil Society Organization (RIVCSO), which had been in the forefront of their agitation.
The teachers want the State Governor, Nyesom Wike to obey court judgments from the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal directing him to pay the teachers.
Speaking with journalists at the protest ground, one of the protesters, Golden Spiff, who is the Chairman of Parents Teachers Association in one of the Demonstration Schools, said they have resolved to keep up with the protest every month until the state government pays their salaries which up to five years.
In his words, Spiff said “The court gave judgment and he (the governor) appealed and lost out in that case and the court said pay these people, but we came here and we told him that if he doesn’t pay, we are going to repeat our visit and we will continue the visit here every month until these monies are paid. because we don’t understand if the governor doesn’t understand what demonstration schools mean.”
One of the protesters told news men that “For five years and three months teachers are suffering; suffering in pains, suffering in agony and what of those who have died, they cannot tell the story again, so we that are living want to appeal to the state governor, Wike to please obey court orders.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Rivers State Civil Society Organization, Enefa Georgewill explained the reason for joining the teachers in the protest.
He said “For us in the Civil Society Organization, we are here in solidarity with the teachers, our major call is that the Rivers State Government that has a governor that is a lawyer and equally a product of our court should obey the valid court orders as announced by the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal.
“It is quite pathetic and wicked for anybody to owe his workers for five years not to talk of a government.
“We think that the resources of the state do not belong to the Rivers State Government or the state governor, it is the resources that belong to the people in the state, and we see no reason the government shouldn’t carry out its statutory duty and by that I mean paying of salaries.”
The civil right activist also berated the state governor for doling out monies to other states in Nigeria as well as musicians in Rivers State but refused to pay the salaries of the aggrieved teachers.