Private sector employees in Nigeria are reportedly struggling to make ends meet in the face of the COVID-19 lockdown.
This is because their employers have either cut down their salaries and other benefits or refused to pay them.
Private school teachers across the country are not left out of this situation as they are said to be bearing the brunt of nonpayment of salaries, at least temporarily.
Most of the teachers who spoke to newsmen Saturday said that to make ends meet, they resorted to small businesses, such as recharge cards.
In Ogun State, a number of schools have not paid salaries as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. However, some school owners fully paid March salaries but subsequently placed their workers on half salaries.
A secondary school teacher in Abeokuta said his proprietor stopped payment of salaries shortly after the school closed in March.
“In my school, the management has stopped our salaries. They said they relied on fees to run the school,’’ the teacher, who craved anonymity, said.
Asked how he is surviving, he responded, “I survive on home lessons. I teach some of my students at home and their parents pay me.
” Mrs Serifat Olagesin, a teacher and mother of three earns N16,000 per month. She said her husband, an artisan, has also been caught up by the lockdown, adding that her school had placed her on half salary.
“When schools were closed we were not paid our salaries because nobody thought the lockdown would last this long. Two weeks into the lockdown, I called the school proprietor, and after much persuasion, half of my salary was paid.
But that didn’t last long. “We have been surviving on the little my mother gives me, as well as palliatives from other people,’’ she said.
Also, Leke Olufemi, an entrepreneur and part time teacher said, “As a part time teacher, I wasn’t really expecting to be paid. In my school, salaries of fulltime teachers are always paid before those on part time.’’
Explaining the effect of the lockdown on school owners, president of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ogun State chapter and owner of Paragon International School, Dr Lawrence Holumidey, said he had over 100 members of staff on his payroll, which amounted to N4 Million every month.
He added that he had managed to keep to his responsibilities. Holumidey encouraged school proprietors not to “shortchange teachers” because of the challenging situation.
“We must show love because when it was rosy we paid their salaries. Now that is harsh we should still endure to pay them because we take the profits. I am being fair as a person.
“However, individual school owners will determine what to do. No association will tell anybody to sack teachers. We have recommended that all our teachers be treated with respect,’’ he said.
In Sokoto State, many private schools are yet to pay last month’s salaries. However, while some paid half salaries, few paid in full.
Speaking to newsmen also, teachers who did not receive salaries said the situation had been excruciating. One of them, a 60-year-old woman whose salary is N35, 000 said, “It has been very agonising. I am diabetic, so buying my drugs and meeting other needs have been difficult.
“My children are also struggling to make ends meet and are not financially strong to cater for all my needs.
” Another teacher who has not received salaries said, “These are tough times for my family of five. There is no salary and things are more expensive. I had to sell my motorcycle to meet pressing needs.”
Also, a 37-year-old teacher said his salary was cut by 50 per cent. “My pay is N50,000 but I received N20, 000 last month. We have to cut down on some things in this period of Ramadan. We have to manage with the little I can afford,” he said.
Also, Salisu Ibrahim, a primary school teacher at Tudun Nufawa, Kaduna, said life had not been easy since lockdown began in March.
“None of the private schools I know paid their teachers. They don’t even know how the teachers are faring. Some proprietors had collected fees before the lockdown, but they refused to pay salaries,’’ he said.
He urged government to ease the lockdown, adding that teachers in private schools and are suffering