By Edem Edem Calabar
Several thousands of science students in Calabar, Cross River State capital on Tuesday broke down and wept uncontrollably as their teachers stopped classes abruptly, proceeding to Governor’s office to participate in protest over the removal of their names from the payroll as well as non payment of salary.
At various science schools visited: including, government technical college, Mayne Avenue, government secondary school, Henshaw Town, government secondary Lagos Street, Model secondary Uwanse, West African People Institute WAPI and government secondary school Anatigha amongst others, science student were seen weeping.
Speaking with DAILY NEWS, some of the students who refused to give their names regretted the action of the state government saying, “We can’t understand why our governor who have been saying that no Cross Riverian would to bed without at least two square meals could superintend the removal of the names of our teachers in state payroll and even stop paying them.
“Our teachers before they left this morning to Governor’s office have told us that they will not teach us again and besides that, they are not going to set our exams, what a waist. We appeal to our Governor Ben Ayade to pay our teachers. We are science students that want to become scientists as most of us studies Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Further Mathematic and Mathematics” they stated.
Sadly, at the Governor’s office, the protesters disrupted government activities as they blocked the gate denying government workers as well as visitors to gain entrance and exit of the offices there. Some of them spread mats and lie down on it.
Speaking with news men, the spoke person of the Science Teachers (protesters) who declined given her names for fear of victimisation said, “We came here as a result of the fact that our names were removed from the payroll. We are over 500 science teachers employed in 2015. We have our appointment and confirmation letters but government stopped paying us, no query and no reason.
“This is not the first time we have come here and as a result, a lots of us have gone through so many tragedies, we have just lost a colleague, he was buried last week because of what, non payment of hospital bills, so he remain at home and we lost him.
“Another colleague of ours has children who were involved in domestic fire accident and she took the children to a private hospital where she could seek for assistance, they said she should bring money and she didn’t have any and she told them, I have not been paid for two months and they said, there is nothing they could do and she lost those children, it’s happened last week.
“Most of us came from a very far distance, there are pregnant women among us here, we don’t know what to say, some of us are tenants and our house rents have expired and the land lord have thrown some of us out while others are being threatened with quit notice. What are we saying, we are all buying from the same markets, so how can we be suffering like this, the salaries are not even much, we barely manage to eat and we still go to work, we paid transport with that.
“We have resolved to come and sleep here because since we have been crying for our Governor to listen to us, it is as if nobody has a listening ear for us. We will remains here because a lot of us have been thrown out from our residents, it is unfair, our children in schools have been withdrawn because we have not paid school fees.
Exams would soon starts, what should we do, our children would not write exams. Again, what about the public schools, while we were leaving this morning from our schools after teaching, the children were pleading with us, please don’t leave us, what was happening and we told them that we have not been paid and we will not come and teach them again, we told them that we will not set up exams for this term for them, the children cried uncontrollably.
“We pity these children, where their parents cannot afford private schools because of high schools fees. Those well placed parents have taken their children to private schools and they don’t bother about poor children. I feel for them, all the science subjects, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Further Maths and Mathematic are all involved, no old teacher.
“It is a pitiable situation and I must tell you, we are not happy about it. If not because we are patriotic Nigerians, the Governor was exposing us to high level of criminalities because some of us would have been involved in bag snatching and other forms of criminalities because I have not seen somebody who have been earning salaries and all of the sudden, you stop him or her for no just cause, it’s sad and unexpected of this man we call our Governor” she regretted.