The fate of hundreds of teachers in Police primary and secondary schools across the country is currently hanging in the balance, following the uncertainty over the implementation of Federal Government’s new retirement age for teachers.
In a review of the retirement policy for teachers, the FG last year announced the extension of their retirement age from 60 to 65 years or 40 years in service effective from January 2021.
As a follow up to the announcement, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Ochono, in a circular dated January 26, 2021, directed all directors, heads of units, principals of federal unity colleges and state coordinators of Federal Education Quality Assurance Services, FEQAS, to comply with the new policy on the condition that those concerned must possess relevant professional certificates and be physically fit.
However, findings by Vanguard revealed that most federal educational institutions have since complied with the directive, including the Army, Navy and Air Force primary and secondary schools which have promptly suspended all pre-retirement activities for the next five years.
On the contrary, teachers in the Police schools seemed to have been sidelined, following the refusal by the Force Education Officer, FEO, CP Rabi Umar, to implement the policy, despite a directive by the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
Vanguard’s findings revealed that the salary of many teachers who are beneficiaries of the new policy has since been stopped through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, in spite of the fact that many of them by virtue of the new policy are eligible to continue in service for the next five years.
Sources within the police told our correspondent that aside from stopping the salaries of the affected teachers, an underground employment of new teachers is ongoing, to replace those supposed to benefit from the new extension policy.
A source familiar with the matter told our correspondent that all that is required for the issue to be resolved is for CP Umar to send a memo to the Commissioner of Police in charge of budget who will in turn, write to IPPIS instructing the agency to continue the salary payment of teachers who ought to have been retired by the old retirement policy.
Sources further stated that many of the affected teachers have not been paid since January and that more will be affected in the coming months following Umar’s reluctance to comply with the Federal Ministry of Education and the IGP directives.
Vanguard correspondent sighted a memo dated March 11, 2021, by the Federal Ministry of Education reminding the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police Affairs to direct all institutions under his authority to comply with the new retirement policy.
The memo, signed by Ochono, titled: Re-Implementation of the new retirement age and years of service for the teaching profession, reads: “I write to draw your attention to the above approval by Mr President and request that you kindly notify all institutions under your supervision for necessary compliance.”
Despite the directive by the ministry, some affected teachers told our correspondent that they were worried that relevant Police authorities have failed to call the FEO to order on the issue.
One of the teachers who requested not to be named said he had not received a salary since January when he clocked 35 years in service even though he was qualified to benefit from the new retirement policy.
“What is happening in the Police force is sad and unfortunate. This is a good policy by the Federal Government that most of us were happy about. Other federal educational authorities have implemented the policy except for the Police. Since January, I have not been paid a salary and nothing has been communicated to me on the matter.
“All I want is to be able to enjoy the noble policy by Mr. President but somebody somewhere is trying to frustrate that. My appeal is that the IGP should immediately direct the FEO, to do the needful by extending our service years by five years.”
Another teacher in a police secondary school in Abuja who also did not want her name mentioned said the situation had become a source of concern for many teachers due to retirement under the Federal Government’s old retirement policy for teachers.
She said: “Some of us who are due for retirement in the coming months under the old retirement policy are worried because the Police Education Authority is not doing anything about the new Federal Government’s policy. I don’t know why the Police are reluctant to enforce the policy when the Army, Air Force, and Navy have already started implementing the policy. My appeal is for the IGP and the National Assembly to look into this matter and address the issue.”
A source also told our correspondent that new teachers were already being engaged to replace many teachers due for retirement under the old retirement policy.
Vanguard could not, however, independently verify the claim.
Lamenting her ordeal after her salary was stopped in February, a teacher in one of the police schools in Lagos said: “In February, my salary was stopped even though I had indicated my willingness to key into the new year of service extension.
“I just go to class to teach and in the last two months, I have not received any salary. Nobody is even telling us anything. We are just in limbo.
“It is frustrating with all the sacrifices one has made to nurture these children with a very meager salary.”
Attempts to get the Force Education Officer, CP Rabi Umar, to react to the issue proved abortive, as several calls to her three telephone numbers were not responded to.
Her phone number was subsequently switched off when our correspondent sent a text message to one of the numbers.