NUT In Alimoso is one happy family – Branch Chairman, Comrade Olowoyo
Demola Adefajo’s Blog (DAB) had an exclusive interview with the Chairman of Alimoso branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Isaac Olowoyo. He spoke extensively on a number of issues including challenges facing the union, achievements and efforts at integrating all parties in the zone. According to him, NUT Alimoso is one big United Family. Enjoy the interview.
I am Comrade Isaac Olowoyo, the Branch Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Alimoso.
Your journey in the Union– My journey in the Union started in the year 2006 as a co-opted member. Since then, 2006-2009, during the regime of Comrade Adebekun. Along the line I stopped by the way. Then in 2013, I came on board as the Deputy Chairman of the Branch. I spent seven years as the Deputy Chairman under the leadership of Comrade Ogunwomoju. That was the time we started two terms. He was able to spend seven years as chairman. He couldn’t complete his tenure before he retired and by virtue of the constitution the Deputy Chairman took his place. I spent one year there as the chairman of the branch. That was from 2020 to 2021. Election was held on the 24th June , 2021 which ushered us in. To the Glory of God, here we are today, I am the chairman
God, Inspiration from other people. When I see some people, especially the present state chairman, Comrade Hassan Akintoye. I always study him the way he goes about his activities. I can learn from some if not all his ways to benefit the masses of teachers in Alimoso here.
If I say there are no challenges, I would be lying. There have been lots of challenges. But we thank God we were able to manage the challenges. We have continued to manage the crisis. Even when we held election and I became the substantive chairman we still continue to manage those things and everything would be resolve with times.
Before I speak on what we have done for members, I will speak on what we have done on the branch secretariat. Even those that came for election that day saw what happened. The secretariat was an eyesore. It had collapsed with the roofs leaking whenever it rained. You couldn’t sit in the chairman’s office whenever it rained. Even the hall was leaking. Before World Teachers Day last year I had to remove the roof and replace the planks. That was within three months of my coming on board.
For the past years of NUT existence in Alimoso, we didn’t have toilet in the secretariat. Today, you can see the toilet project. Also the activity of NUT is disturbing the schools. We have to carve out the secretariat from the school. We want to level it and extend the secretariat.
In my manifesto when we were campaigning, I promised teachers in Alimoso that I am determined to make a difference. I want to change mentality of teachers because teachers are no longer interested in the union. How do you change the mentality? By being transparent. For the first time in the history of NUT Alimoso, I facilitated loans where you as a subscriber would be able to know how much they are going to be deducting every month and the rate. I put everything on all the platforms. The interest rate and all other information on the loans were pasted on the boards in the secretariat for all to see. This has never happened in Alimoso NUT. Previously, you could never know the interest rate on the loan you are collecting. Thank God, we want to make a difference.
Another thing we promised teachers then, as big as we are, we don’t have cooperative of our own. I promised then that we would have our own cooperative and put people who are credible on board. That your money would be safe. I can tell you today and I am proud to say it that we have NUT cooperative Alimoso branch. We started this year January. And to God be the Glory, we are nine months old with the interest rate of 6 per cent for all members and the form is free. People have started obtaining loans from this cooperative. That one of the things we have been able to do for teachers.
We have always participated in promotion of teachers. The district and the chairmen of the NUT in the district collaborate in ensuring we have successful promotion exercise for our teachers.
Again, we also see that some teachers cannot boast of their own land. We make sure that we get land for our teachers at very cheap rate. We are selling a plot of land at N420, 000 in an area where they are selling at N600, 000 and more. Our land is very genuine. We have done the layout. By the Grace of God by the end of the year all teachers that subscribe to the land will get their allocation and they will be able to start work on it.
I have a plan, which I have discussed with some stakeholders that we should have disciplinary committee in our branch so that any teacher that is found wanting, before they get to PMB we will be able to invite that teacher and ask what happen. By this, we would be able to quench a lot of things before they become uncontrollable. I have discussed with the ANCOPSS Chairman and the zonal quality control director and some past leaders. We shall have the committee on ground so that we can quench a lot of issues before they get out of hand.
We will soon start selling commodities to our teachers. Why we have not started is because we want to secure a price that teachers will be comfortable with. We have got quotations from lots of people. But they are on the high side. Thank God, somebody came last week with a price that is reasonable. We are good to go. We have raised the LPO, signed the agreement. By the time we are done with the World Teachers Day, by the Grace of God, they will supply those commodities.
For the first time in the history of Alimoso, retirees are now feeling the impact of NUT. When we are invited we will grace occasion of retirement of our members. We will not only grace the occasion, but we will present plaque to the teacher. They are quality plaques. I make sure I do it for teachers. We put the picture of the teacher on the plaque. I am the first person to do this in Alimoso.
This World Teachers Day, I am going to award some people. We are going to recognise those who represent us well at the district level. We are going to give them award.
The only thing we have not done in our manifesto is the medical screening. I promised to give teachers free glasses. That one will be done next years. Free glasses will be given after screening to know the type of glasses required.
I want to assure you that by the special grace of God all the teachers in Alimoso would be given four yards of Ankara materials to mark the World Teachers’ Day next year. This year they paid for it. They are not going to buy it next year. I wanted to do it this year but when I looked at our purse I had to change mind. I deliberately delayed selling of the cloth because I thought we would be able to give it out free. I purposely delayed the committee because we were expecting some money which unfortunately didn’t materialise. By the special Grace of God, next year, all the teachers will get free of charge.
Cooperation from the team
The team has been so cooperative. In fact, we see each other as members of the same family. What I always tell them is my door is always open. If you hear anything outside, come and ask me and I will explain to you. In fact when relate you cannot differentiate who is the chairman. We eat together. I ask the clerks to buy food and we eat together. They have been very supportive. They are very cooperative. I am so lucky to have such a team. Many of them are young people. They may not have experience but they are very ready to learn. They are learning very fast.
Integration of other groups
Immediately after the election, the first thing I did was to reach out to my opponents. I met with comrade Adeosun. He was at State Delegates conference in Badagry. I invited him there. Last year, the cloth for the World Teachers’ Day was given to members of their group free. I even extended it to others this year. December last year, I gave them gift for Christmas. During my birthday, all of them were here at the Secretariat to celebrate with me.
We talked at length. I have brought them in. I don’t want antagonistic politics in Alimoso. We should see each other as one single entity. Even when I was Deputy Chairman, I always reached out to people from the other camps after election. Election has come and gone, if truly we have the interest of teachers at heart, let us come together and work as one.
We are together.
Advice for teachers in Alimoso
My candid advice for teachers is for them to discharge their duties. Do their work conscientiously. They must adhere strictly to public service rules. They must shun all forms of illegalities. It is God that rewards. The reward of teachers is no longer in heaven alone. It is here right on earth. But we should try as much as possible to be role models to the students.