Some teachers working for the Nigeria Police Force have accused the Force Education Officer, Rabi Umar, of retiring them from service against the approval of a five-year retirement age extension/length of service for teachers in the employment of the Federal Government by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
During a Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Buhari, the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill, 2021, was assented to.
The approval increased the retirement age of teachers in the country from 60 to 65, and equally changed their years of service from 35 to 40.
Circulars issued by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, and addressed to the Ministry of Police Affairs, among others, had directed the implementation of the presidential directive from January 1, 2021, on the condition that the beneficiaries possessed professional certificates and were physically fit.
One of the circulars titled: ‘Implementation of the new retirement age and years of service for the teaching profession’, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, was addressed to all directors, head of units, principals of federal unity colleges, and zonal and state coordinators of the FEQAS.
It read in part, “This is to inform you that the Federal Executive Council at its meeting on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, approved 65 years and 40 years retirement age and years of service, respectively for the teaching profession. Implementation of the new scheme is with effect from January 1, 2021.”
However, the teachers alleged that Umar, a Commissioner of Police, had been retiring them from the force against Buhari’s directive and despite other federal institutions suspending pre-retirement activities for the next five years.
One of the affected teachers told PUNCH Metro on condition of anonymity that Umar allegedly colluded with the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System officials to delete the records of beneficiaries of the extension.
The teacher also alleged that the FEO had been secretly employing new teachers and backdating their employment letters to the period when she was not in office.
The source stated, “The implication of this action is that she will feign ignorance of the circulars when confronted by higher authorities and exonerate herself. She also made disparaging remarks that if teachers were unable to achieve anything worthwhile in life in 35 years of service, the additional five years would not make any difference.
“We want the FEO to know that we did not beg for the extension of service, but it was rather given to teachers on the government’s payroll by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Therefore, she cannot unilaterally reject, stop or block a policy that has been implemented by the Armed Forces, Unity Schools and other federal schools in Nigeria.”
Another teacher, who preferred not to be mentioned, alleged that Umar had been insisting on getting the backing of the National Assembly before honouring the five-year extension accorded to teachers under the NPF.
The teacher added, “We want Nigerians to realise that the FEO’s insistence on the Whitepaper, which she knows can take a while at the National Assembly before implementation, is a strategy to get the teachers out of service.
We appeal to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to caution the FEO and direct her to immediately stop falsifying retirement letters and implement the Federal Government’s approved extra five years for teachers in police schools.
“The FEO should also reinstate the teachers, whose names have been illegally deleted from the police payroll between January and March this year, and release the letters of promotion of teachers promoted last year.”
One of the affected teachers stated, “I was supposed to retire on January 31, 2021, but when the implementation started on January 1, 2021, I qualified as I am very fit and have a good educational record.
“In early February, the head of schools were told to compile the names of beneficiaries of the new retirement age; we initially thought that they were working on it until I received a message that I should proceed on retirement despite qualifying for the extension.”
The spokesman for the Ministry of Police Affairs, Bolaji Kazeem, confirmed that the ministry had been notified of the five-year extension of the retirement age and length of service of teachers, adding that Umar was aware of it.
“I can authoritatively confirm to you that the ministry received the letter and it was communicated to the FEO (Umar) to take action immediately,” he stated.
Umar, however, said the five-year extension was just a rumour, adding that she had not got any formal communication to that effect.
“As far as I am concerned, I have not received any official letter from anywhere. All these things are just rumours. I heard it as a rumour that five years have been added; and if they have added five years, there should be a formal communication between us and the authority,” she stated.
SOURCE: PUNCH NIGERIA