By Ibrahim Bello
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, on Thursday expressed concern over rising cases of drug addiction among teachers in the state and urged the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to help address the menace.
The governor said in an address to mark the World Teachers’ Day in Birnin Kebbi, organised by NUT and Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), that the government was also disturbed by the scale of absenteeism among teachers.
Bagudu said the two unions must partner the government to address the situation, stressing that, “if we pay lip service to lapses in our educational system, we are throwing away the future of our children and our tomorrow’s leaders.
“I was at a community recently during one of my inspections to schools in the state and one of the elders of the community told me that nine out of the 11 teachers in that school are drug addicts and they are well known in the community.’’
He said the state education sector must be made better for it to produce young people who would compete with others from across the country.
Bagudu therefore urged the unions to take urgent measures to check their members involved in drugs and those absenting themselves from work.
“If we don’t agree as a people to give priority to education we are toying with our destiny,” he added.
The governor disclosed that his administration had spent N700 million on the payment of WAEC and NECO fees of final year secondary school students in the state.
He agreed that teachers’ welfare was essential in getting better results and pledged to give it priority.
“Though it is difficult, we feed the pupils, provide chairs and desks for them, but we will also make sure that teachers in the rural areas are made comfortable by providing accommodation for them,” said the governor.
Earlier, ASUSS Chairman, Ibrahim Garba, called for payment of promotion arrears to teachers in the state.
“Fund should also be released in order to implement some remaining promotions and grade level steps problems pending with the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
He also urged the state government to support WAEC to set up a permanent office in Birnin Kebbi, to save teachers the economic and human risks of transporting themselves to Sokoto.
The NUT Chairman, Ashshibi Dan-Kakale, called for training and retraining of teachers in the state for better performance.