Recently, the Kaduna State government discovered, to its chagrin, that there were 21,780 unworthy teachers in its employ. The teachers failed the state’s primary 4 examinations woefully. But this may not be as jolting as the full support given to them by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). The state governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, had earlier taken a wholesome decision to relieve these unworthy teachers of their jobs, which they had proved beyond reasonable doubt that they did not merit and should not retain. But the NLC violently protested against the decision, querying the appropriateness of the state government’s decision to subject the teachers to a test.
On November 8, workers from 18 states of the country arrived Kaduna in the early hours of the day, led by the national president of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba. They demanded that the government should rescind its decision or have the entire labour force to contend with. The trouble taken by the NLC to mobilise workers from 18 states of the country for such an indulgent adventure actually beggars belief. Why embark on such an expensive trip just to, as it were, defend the indefensible? It would seem as if the NLC has an unprecedented capacity for the frivolous. Hankering after the unworthy, the organised labour embarked on a purely despicable cause. It threw its support behind what is obviously less than mediocre.
Addressing the motley crowd of disgruntled workers, the NLC national president assured them that the leadership of the umbrella union would support them and ensure that they got what they deserved from the state government. From all indications, the NLC itself must be riddled with such stuff as it is up in arms to defend. Otherwise, how can its obviously misled agitation be explained? If labour is the sole source of value, what value have the unqualified teachers added to the education enterprise in Kaduna State?
Many of the reasons touted by the NLC for supporting the less than mediocre teachers are harebrained and ridiculous. From the assertion that examination is not a true test of a person’s abilities to the claim that the test conducted by the state government was illegal because the government lacked the capacity to test its teachers, not being the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), it is clear that the NLC was out of its depth. To be sure, the government regularly tests its workers before upgrades or promotions.
Some of the answer scripts of the concerned teachers made available in the media clearly showed that they were not fit to stand before their pupils even as specimens, let alone instructors, and that the process of their recruitment was completely defective. El-Rufai had earlier explained that many of these recruitments were patronages to cronies and supporters that had eventually compromised the quality of tuition and education in the states’ public education sector. It is therefore quite inexplicable that the NLC would deploy its resources in supporting the cause of enthroning mediocrity in Nigerian schools when it should rather be concerned with improving the quality of human resources and capacity.
It is a sad development to observe the dwindling of societal values in public spaces, the shifting boundaries of morality and the active support for crassness as exemplified by the choices made by the NLC in the matter of the unqualified teachers in Kaduna State. The NLC proudly deployed sophistry in defending the indefensible. It is shameful that the NLC could be caught endorsing the employment of unqualified teachers in the name of fighting for workers’ rights. The answer scripts of the teachers speak volumes about their level of ignorance and unfitness for the noble job of teaching. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to suggest the cadre to which such individuals can be absorbed in any public service.
Governor el-Rufai must remain resolute in improving the education sector and relieving these misfits of their jobs. They have demonstrated that they are incapable of doing the jobs without destroying the lives of their hapless pupils. He must remain unperturbed about the NLC’s shameful posturing because the educational standards in the country’s schools cannot be compromised any further. We are ashamed of the NLC and its leadership.