Service extension: FG owes 600 teachers 23-month arrears
No fewer than 600 teachers in the federal civil service, precisely under the Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Ministry of Defence, who benefited from the Federal Government service elongation package for teachers, are currently being owed 23 months salaries, investigations revealed on Sunday.
It was reported that service elongation for teachers was introduced by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The beneficiary teachers are in some of the nation’s unity schools, schools owned by the military and paramilitary.
On January 20, 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved a Bill that sought to increase the retirement age and the service years of teachers.
Then Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, explained that the essence of the Bill was to give legal backing for the approval of the new retirement age of 65 from 60 years for teachers and extend their period of service from 35 to 40 years.
The Bill, according to him, also sought to introduce bursary awards, special rural posting allowances, and other items that would encourage brilliant Nigerians to take up teaching
In April 2022, Buhari signed the harmonised Bill into law backdating the implementation to January 2022.
However, investigations revealed that the Federal Ministry of Education in a memo dated January 26, 2021, told teachers in its unity schools not to retire but to continue in service ahead of the presidential assent by Buhari.
The memo was tagged “FME/HRM/S234/1” and it read, “This is to inform you that the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of Wednesday, 20 January 2021 approved 65 years and 40 years as retirement age and years of service, respectively, for the teaching profession. Implementation of this new scheme is with effect from 1st January 2021.
“It should be noted that the new retirement, years of service is not automatic, as officers will be required to demonstrate fitness after medical examination and those found to be unfit will be advised to retire.”
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Defence also directed teachers, who retired from its schools but have applied for the elongation of their service, to remain in office pending the determination of their applications.
The directive was contained in a circular marked MOD/HRM/AP/S.I/1 and signed by the ministry’s Human Resource Manager, K. M. Ojirobe, and dated January 17, 2022, also ahead of the presidential assent by Buhari.
Some of the affected teachers, who spoke to our correspondent, noted that despite remaining in service since January 2021, they were not paid salaries until November 2022 with their arrears still being withheld despite the reflection on their payslips.
One of the affected teachers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said, “We are over 400 Education Officers who are beneficiaries of the elongation policy which extended the retirement period of teachers to 65 years or 40 years in service, effective January 2021. We were asked to continue with our jobs but weren’t paid a dime till November 2022 with arrears of over 23 months outstanding.