Teachers in primary and secondary schools in Imo State on Thursday, staged a peaceful protest over the government’s failure to pay their salaries for 12 months.
The protest held in front of the Government House, Owerri, temporarily halted human and vehicular movement in the area.
It was learnt that the action was triggered by Governor Hope Uzodinma’s claim that teachers who had yet to receive their salaries were ‘ghost workers.’
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions, such as “Uzodimma lied to Imo people on teachers’ salary”, “We are not ghosting workers, we have our employment letters, please pay us” and “Uzodimma come and see us and prove we are ghost workers.”
The aggrieved teachers alleged that they were last paid in February 2020, barely one month after Mr Uzodimma became governor.
Grace Ajaegbu, a teacher at Community Secondary School, Udo in Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area, told the News Agency of Nigeria she had not been paid since the inception of the present administration.
“I started teaching in 1992 but since the administration of this our governor began, I have not received a dime.
“The last salary I got was in February 2020, which is 12 months now.
“I’m not a fraudster as the governor claimed, neither am I a ghost worker,” Mrs Ajaegbu said.
Juliet Akalazu from Mbaitoli, who said she had been employed for eight years, said she had not been paid since March 2020.
“The governor said we are fraudsters and ghost workers. That prompted us to come with our documents with which we were employed.
“We want the governor himself to verify our claims.
“Since one year, we have done about 15 different biometric verifications on this matter, yet the governor doesn’t want to pay us.
“We submitted our documents to the offices of the accountant-general and head of (civil) service, yet we have not been paid,” she said.
However, Governor Uzodinma’s media aide, Modestus Nwankpa, said the government had been consistent in the payment of teachers that were verified.
Mr Nwankpa said the protesters were those that claimed to be teachers but refused to show up for verification.
He said that no amount of blackmail would deter the government from sanitising the system from the “anomaly.”