Right Group Demand Payment for Unpaid Unity School Teachers

Right Group Demand Payment for Unpaid Unity School Teachers

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for immediate action regarding the plight of 1,800 teachers employed in Federal Government Unity Schools who have reportedly been unpaid for 36 months.

HURIWA in a statement by its national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, expressed profound dismay and indignation that despite the Federal Ministry of Education’s significant personnel budget expenditure, these teachers remain without their rightful earnings, a situation that the prominent civil rights advocacy group described as a gross injustice.

Giving background to the issue, HURIWA recounted that an investigation by The Guardian revealed that the Federal Ministry of Education has spent N4.3 trillion on personnel budgets over the past six years. “However, over 1,800 teachers, recruited between 2018 and 2020, have not been paid their salaries.

These alleged unpaid arrears, along with other allowances, amount to over N3.4 billion. The affected teachers, employed as education officers and posted to schools across Nigeria, have also not received their first 28 days allowance, which is typically provided to cover initial expenses for new employees in public service.

“Despite informed repeated protests and numerous letters to the Ministry of Education’s headquarters in Abuja, the teachers’ demands for their rightful payment have reportedly not been met.

The Ministry officials, including the permanent secretary and the Minister of Education, Dr. Yusuf Sununu, have allegedly made multiple promises to address the issue. However, these supposed promises have yet to materialize into concrete action. Reasons cited for the non-payment include logistical challenges at the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) desk and the Ministry’s alleged failure to transmit the teachers’ files to the Budget Office of the Federation for vetting and onward transfer to the Accountant General’s office for approval,” HURIWA narrated.

The right group called for the arrest of Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, during whose tenure this issue began.

The association questioned why the teachers were employed without plans for timely payment and demanded accountability for this gross negligence while stressed that the entire problem started during Buhari’s time, and Adamu Adamu, as the then Minister of Education, should be held accountable.

The association also urged the current administration of President Bola Tinubu to issue a stern caution to the present Ministers of Education adding that the current minister upon discovery of  the unpaid teachers would  have  priority to resolve the matter swiftly.

“Unity Schools, also known as Federal Government Colleges, play a crucial role in promoting national cohesion by bringing together students from diverse backgrounds across Nigeria. These schools are vital for fostering unity and integration among young Nigerians. For instance, a child from Sokoto might be posted to a Federal Government College in Okigwe, Imo State. The non-payment of teachers in these institutions undermines their effectiveness and threatens the nation’s educational framework,” HURIWA lamented.

HURIWA also believes the non-payment of these teachers constitutes a national emergency. The association highlighted other forms of mistreatment of teachers in Nigeria, emphasizing that despite the extension of the retirement age from 60 to 65 years under Buhari’s administration, the lack of adequate compensation and timely payment of wages renders this policy ineffective.

The association also raised concerns about the increasing exodus of mathematics teachers and other skilled educators from Nigeria to countries like Canada, Britain, and Australia. “The British government, for example, is actively recruiting mathematics teachers, and many Nigerians are leaving due to better pay and working conditions abroad. This brain drain further exacerbates the challenges facing Nigeria’s education system.”

HURIWA called for the immediate payment of the 36-month salary arrears owed to the 1,800 Unity School teachers and accountability for those responsible for the non-payment, including the arrest and investigation of Mallam Adamu Adamu.

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