16th March, 2023
Chief Barr. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike.
The Executive Governor of Rivers State,
Rivers State Government House,
AN OPEN LETTER OF APPEAL DEMANDING THE PAYMENT OF SALARY ARREARS TO THE TEACHERS OF STAFF SCHOOLS OF RIVERS STATE OWNED TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS STOPPED BY THE RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT OVER SEVEN (7) YEARS AGO
Your Excellency Sir, we write for ourselves and as members of Rivers State Civil Society Organizations. The Rivers State Civil Society Organizations is a coalition of Civil Society Groups operating in Rivers State, just as there are different CSO Coalition in other parts of the South-South geopolitical zone and across Nigeria.
However, the Rivers State Civil Society Organizations has its headquarters in Port Harcourt Rivers State from where it coordinates it’s activities mainly advocacy on human and environmental rights, the rule of law, probity, accountability and anti corruption campaigns in government business,institutions and corporations. We present this letter to you on behalf of the above named group of people and with utmost sense of responsibility.
Before we proceed your Excellency, we wish to thank and congratulate you on some of your laudable projects within Rivers State and even your highly criticized acts of philanthropy with Rivers State Resources to indigent institutions, organizations, individuals and states in the Country outside Rivers State. Although the resources spent on some of these acts of goodwill is commendable and a display of your human kindness and the good will of the good people of Rivers State. This is a display to show that Rivers State is not just a Christian state but you as the political leader of the State is a good Christian as a person.
However, one would have ordinarily wished that a fraction of the said resources was spent on some pressing needs within Rivers State though not in the least to suggest that the milk of human kindness meted to outsiders and the friends of Rivers State is in anyway a waste but a bridge of National unity and solidarity which will pay off at its own time. To one of the pressing needs of desperate demand that ordinarily would have been called for urgent attention with little of numerous act of generosity already given out, we shall direct our tension squarely in this letter.
Your Excellency, we recall that for a long time now that the Rivers State Civil Society Organization has championed the advocacy both within Rivers State and Nationally for the State Government to offset and payoff arrears of salary of Teachers of Staff Schools of Rivers State owned Tertiary Institutions. These teachers had their salaries stopped by the State Government shortly after your first tenure was inaugurated on May 29th 2015 for the years following, these Rivers Men and Women, Fathers and Mothers with dependants (children of school age, aged and sick parents, medical attention etc) have not received any salary nor allowance till date. Some of these teachers have put in over 25 to 30 years of their lives to the service of this State. What is worst? Aside these teachers, every other category of staff in the School is still being paid by the Rivers State Government because they were all employed by the Rivers State Government just like any other category of staff in these tertiary institutions. For the purpose of clarity your Excellency, these dying teachers neither collects school fees or fix price of the School fees. Those who collects the fees from the Students, are still being paid by the Rivers State Government till date. These teachers are dying daily and some are being evicted from their rented apartment by their Landlords. In some cases, both parents are teaching in same school and their children are sent out of their schools because they can’t afford their fees. Ninety percent of them are Rivers people- Your people you love so much
As law abiding citizens, they took their matter to the industrial court and won the Rivers State Government. Surprisedly, the Rivers State Government appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal on the same day the Industrial Court entered judgment in favor of these indigent teachers.
It is on record that on the 30th day of October 2020, the court of appeal struck out an appeal filed by your government for lack of merit while fighting the case of the Teachers. It is surprisingly that despite all the court judgments that your government have refused, neglected and is unwilling to pay the teachers their salary or obey any of the court orders emanating from the litigations for two whole years. We hear the Rivers State Government only re-approached the Court of Appeal in 2022 to grant it leave to appeal for the second time after our organisation led these teachers in protest to the NBA Annual Conference held in Rivers State and after agents of the Rivers State Government promised the then Commissioner of Police that your government will resolve the matter amicably if the the protest is called off.
This is unexpected from a democratically elected government not the least from a man who is a victim of injustice and oppression of which he has raised alarm globally decrying same and insisting on due process and the rule of law to be the watch word of politics and governance in our democracy in Nigeria.
Your Excellency, it is much more depressing and a conduct unexpected from a man occupying the exalted office of the governor of Rivers State,a Christian in a Christian State and a beneficiary of landmark judgments that silenced and set aside human conspiracy, political rascality, impunity and lawlessness targeted to destroy him and his political career to turn around and treat a well-considered judgment of the court with ignominy and disdain for two whole years. We all know your government going back to the Court of Appeal for the second time is just to waste the time of these hungry and pauperized Teachers from Rivers State.
This is much more embarrassing and a conduct unbecoming of a member of the apex legal institution – the Honorable Body of Benchers and a member of the prestigious Nigerian Bar for upwards of Twenty Five (25) years.
If the citadel of justice is corrupt what will happen to the body polity?. May it not be told Sir, that you ended your eight (8) years stay in power only sustained by the grace of Almighty God in the face of a virulent opposition just to leave hunger in the stomach of thousands of Rivers Men and Women who voted for you in your First and Second Tenure and still retained the love as at today to risk the coming political outing with you despite competing offers from different political interests.
We consider this appeal timely and one opportunity for you to prove your humanity once more to those that may have doubts of your sincerity of purpose,Christian faith and political character. There is still enough time between now and the 29th of May, 2023 when you shall depart office to redeem yourself and purge your conscience of the daily wailing, cries and agony of indigent indigenes of the state, that this policy of stopping their salary have left bedridden in poverty and material lack in upwards of a decade. We wish to remind you that, you introduced this policy as Minister of Education at the federal level and the Industrial court have long restored the salaries of these teachers and have been paying them ever since you left as Minister.
Though many of them have died and many of their dependents dropped out of school and others with a bleak future. But Sir, it’s better late than never. The good story of their payment and the relief it will bring to their lives will be a good reference point, a credit to your political career and an imprint left in the sands of time, a legacy worthy of reference and emulation by politicians and leaders of Rivers State that will come after you. It will equally add to your party chances in the fourth coming gubernatorial elections in the State. Paying the salaries of these teachers, will present you as a Leader that cares and not a weak man. Our organisation or the leadership of these teachers will equally not take the glory. It will be a plus to your already known magnanimity and love for your people. We equally understand the financial challenges competing needs have on the State’s resources and will advise a payment plan be discussed as it is convenient for your government.
We urge you to disregard any advice and scold such an adviser as Jesus did to Peter (get behind me Mr. Adviser) and pay this Salary and Allowances to these citizens and your Workers. If you do this Your Excellency God will be very happy with you.
MAY IT PLEASE HIS EXCELLENCY.
Chairman,Rivers State Civil Society Organizations