More than 600 teachers in the federal civil service, specifically under the Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Ministry of Defence, "who benefited from the Federal Government's service elongation package for teachers," are presently owed 23 months of salaries, as revealed by investigations conducted by The PUNCH.
The service elongation for teachers was implemented during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, with the Federal Executive Council approving a Bill on January 20, 2021, to "increase the retirement age and service years of teachers."
The then Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, clarified that the Bill's purpose was to "provide legal backing for the new retirement age of 65 and service extension from 35 to 40 years." The Bill also included provisions for "bursary awards, special rural posting allowances, and other incentives" to encourage teaching.
Despite the approval and subsequent signing of the harmonized Bill into law by Buhari in April 2022, investigations reveal that some teachers in unity schools and military-owned schools were directed "not to retire" until the presidential assent.
Affected teachers, numbering over 400, shared their plight, stating that they remained unpaid for over 23 months despite continuing to work since January 2021. Their salaries were reinstated in December 2022, but arrears remained unpaid.
In a letter to the Minister of Education dated October 13, 2023, the affected teachers appealed for intervention, stating that although arrears were reflected on their payslips, the amounts were not credited to their bank accounts.
The Secretary-General of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Dr. Mike Ene, confirmed awareness of the issue and reported ongoing efforts by the union to address the matter. The Ministry of Defence has initiated a verification process for teachers in armed forces schools.
Notably, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, has not responded to inquiries as of the time of filing this report. The Ministry of Defence, on the other hand, has begun the verification of all teachers in armed forces schools.