The recruitment of indigenous teachers for Awka North Local Government aimed to stem the tide of rural-urban migration of teachers has been marred by irregularities as non-indigenes allegedly made the list. Writes OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU.
Since August 27, 1991 when Anambra state came into being following its creation alongside other new states in the country, it has been facing one challenge after another ranging from bad roads to inadequate power supply, unemployment and lots more. Till date, most of the challenges persisted even though some are half solved either by self-help or by the state government.
In all of these, the state still remains agrarian by which it is believed that attention should be geared towards realising its full potential in agriculture especially as the price of oil is highly unpredictable.
The planned recruitment
Awka North local government area is disadvantaged in all ramifications. But the current nightmare of this food basket of the state is the recent recruitment of teachers, the list which came out on July 2019.
The state government had in 2018 embarked on teachers’ recruitment in primary schools through Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB). Although ASUBEB did not state so in its announcement, sources however said the motive of the employment was to help rural areas like Awka North, Ayamelum, Anambra West, Anambra East and other disadvantaged council areas to have locally trained teachers recruited.
That was due to allegations that most at times, people recruited to teach in agrarian communities apply for and secure transfers from rural communities to urban areas within weeks or months owing to lack of basic amenities, among other challenges.
However, parts of the recruitment advertisements urged interested and qualified candidates to send a handwritten application through the education secretary in their local councils and to attach to it a letter of identification and contact of the traditional ruler or their town union leader.
How the scandal started
Therefore, when the names of those recruited appeared, people from the council area were jubilant that their indigenes were recruited only to discover through investigation that most of the names on the list were not actually from within. Blueprint gathered that 51 teachers were said to be recruited from the council area but only 25 were certified as indigenes from 10 communities in the council area.
Therefore, the leadership of 10 communities in the LGA including traditional rulers and president generals on August 12 and 14 respectively petitioned the state government through the lawmaker representing the constituency at the state House of Assembly, Hon John Nwokoye.
The traditional rulers in their petition entitled: ‘Re-recruitment of Primary and Post Primary School Teachers in Awka North LGA’ said they carefully examined the list of candidates posted to Awka North and found out that some were not indigenes of the place.
Signed by HRH Igwe A. C. Ezebuilo, the traditional ruler of Amanuke, who equally function as chairman of Awka North Traditional Rulers Council and copied to Hon Nwokoye, Anagor Benedine, education secretary, Awka North and commissioner for basic education, Professor Kate Omenugha, the petitioners said their observation showed that some were from other LGAs while others hail from neighbouring states.
They said, “Experience has shown that when teachers of other LGA are posted to Awka North, they seek for transfer after staying for one or two terms thereby leaving the school without the required teachers.
“For example, Union Primary School Amanuke has only three permanent staff at present. The story is the same in almost all schools in Awka North Council Area. Yet there are qualified teachers from the area who applied for recruitment and are ready to serve in any part of the council,” part of the petition alleged.
They, however, acknowledged their ignorance of the criteria for the recruitment exercise, while explaining that they want the state government to employ teachers and post them to their local government origin which, they noted was the basis for the recruitment.
“The Anambra state government under Chief Willie Obiano is education-friendly and is expected that we all shall support efforts to improve the standard of education in the state especially as it affects the rural communities.
“We humbly request that candidates who are not from Awka North Council area should be screened out and posted to their LGAs of origin, and that candidates of from Awka North should replace those non-indigenes, “it concluded.
The petition from the president generals of 10 communities in the area was not entirely different from that of their traditional rulers but it explicitly named 25 people from various towns in the local government area and 26 others it termed were not indigenes of Awka North but came to sabotage and exploit the people on their entitlements.
That petition was written under the heading, ‘Save Our Souls; As the Newly Recruited Teachers in Awka North is a Sabotage against our People, Please Investigate’, and signed by Hon Okechukwu Offorkansi, president general of Awba Ofemili and secretary general, Association of Town Union Presidents Awka North chapter.
Making reference to the list of the newly recruited teachers in the council under the memo no. MOBE/AN/PS/176/1/T/143 dated July 29, 2019 and directed to all the 21 LGAs, the petitioners alleged that out of 51 newly-recruited teachers in the council area, 25 are indigenes while 26 are non-indigenes.
“While we are rejoicing for the laudable gesture of the governor for empowering a good number of 51 new teachers, observations came that a good number of the listed teachers who registered in Awka North were by proxy by which they are non-indigenes while Awka North indigenes who sat for the teaching examinations and interview were not shortlisted and they were more than 320 trained and qualified teachers in education from various high institutions in Nigeria,” part of the petition stated.
Continuing, it alleged, “Because of our quest for qualitative and utility teachers of Awka North extractions, we had requested for indigenous teachers and the governor approved of that shortly before these gamblers came to rob us of these privileges and rights of having permanent and indigenous teachers among our people.
“More often, Awka north people were always shortchanged both in employment and empowerment, hence, our resolve this time to verify and scrutinise the list and on observations, we found out really that there were infiltrators and cabals undermining the employment and empowerment of our people, please kindly intervene, Mr Speaker.
“We, the president generals in Awka North LGA of Anambra state herein cry for the protection of the rights, privileges and empowerment of the youths of our people in respect of this teaching appointments as a denial of such privileges are tantamount to denial of democracy dividends.
“It is a discouragement of our people from going to school of which we had been suppressed, humiliated and dominated by these cabals who had been sponsoring their children, friends and relations into government appointments in Awka North LGA for decades to the detriment of our unemployed educated youths who roam the streets.
“As this opportunity came, these cabals hijacked it again as you can see that the non-indigenes are greater in number than the indigenes from the analysis. Kindly order for proper investigation of their particulars of communities and LGA of origin as they alleged and also treat accordingly.”
The petition was copied to the special adviser to the governor on security matters, prevention and operations, Hon Nwokoye, the transition committee chairman of Awka North, the commissioner for basic education and chairman of Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB).
Hon Nwaokoye, while reading the petitions on the floor of the assembly, called on the 7th assembly to step in and address the issue.
It was however, referred to the Committee on Public Petition, chaired by the deputy majority leader, Emeka Aforka, with two weeks mandate to present its findings. As at the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether the committee has concluded its investigation.
The parties involve the president generals and traditional rulers in Awka North and ASUBEB representatives who were invited by the committee for hearing and after a closed door meeting, it adjourned to September 6th in which the 26 alleged non-indigenes were expected to attend.