Contrary to reports making the rounds in a section of the media indications have emerged that teachers in schools owned by the Nigeria Police have not been exempted from the new retirement age.
As part of the activities marking the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on October 5, 2020, the federal government announced an extension of the retirement age of teachers from 60 years of age and 35 years in service to 65 years and 40 years, respectively.
To that effect the Federal Ministry of Education issued a circular on January 26, 2021, titled: “Implementation of the New Retirement Age and Years of Service for the Teaching Profession.”
The circular by the Permanent Secretary, Arc. Sonny S.T. Echono, read in part: “This is to inform you that the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of Wednesday January 20, 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 from January 1, 2021. It should be noted that the new retirement age/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 accordingly.”
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2, 2021, transmitted an Executive Bill to the Senate, seeking extension of the retirement age for teachers.
The Bill was conveyed in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who read it out at the start of plenary, however, further details of the legislation would be discussed on another legislative day when the lawmakers begin the process of its passage.
Though the Bill is yet to be passed into law, there appears to be agitations among teachers in police schools over the implementation of the new retirement age.
In sponsored articles by people who preferred to be anonymous, they claimed that the fate of hundreds of teachers in police primary and secondary schools across the country are in the balance, over uncertainty on the implementation of the federal government’s circular on new retirement age for teachers.
Findings by this newspaper, however, showed that nothing was farther from the truth, as the Force Education Officer (FEO), CP Rabi Umar, in a memo dated May 10, 2021, and addressed to Directors, Heads, Zonal Offices 1-17, Research and Planning Office 1-6, Commandants Police Secondary Schools, and Head Teachers Police Children Schools, conveyed the information as directed.
The memo titled: Re: Teachers Of Police Children/Secondary Schools Age/Years Of Service For Nigerian Teachers, read in part: “Find attached a copy of the letter received from the office of the IGP on the above subject.
“You are requested to bring the content of the attached circular No; FME/HRM/S234/1 dated January 26, 2021, to the attention of all concerned.”
In the same vein, information from IPPIS has also indicated that there must be government White Paper on the constitution amendment before the implementation of their service extension from 34 to 40 years and 60 to 65 years whichever comes first.
When contacted, some teachers in the police schools in Abuja confirmed the circular from the FEO but expressed worry over the delay in the implementation of the presidential directive.
“Well, I am aware that the Force Directorate of Education has conveyed the information to Police schools, however, what we are bothered about is why the implementation has not started,” a teacher in the POWA school in Abuja, who asked not to be named, said.
On his part, a senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak, said that there are processes to such a circular, stressing that the Bill on the matter was only recently sent to the National Assembly urging for patience.
“You know that it was a circular with caveat, which is requisite qualification and medical fitness.
“So even if it would be implemented, which would be, the process of verification of academic qualification will take place, and then the issue of medical fitness will follow.
“Also, the President just sent the Bill to the National Assembly and bearing in mind that the previous age and year of retirement was a constitutional matter there is need for the appropriate section(s) to be amended before implementation,” the senior police officer said.
Similarly, one of the vice principals in one of the Police secondary schools, who assured our correspondent that they were aware of the presidential directive, however, faulted the circular by the permanent secretary.
“The Permanent Secretary Arc. Echono ought to have waited for the passage of the Bill and the government whitepaper before sending out circular on implementation. All this confusion is because he went ahead to issue such a circular stating that January 1, 2021, was date for commencement of implementation without recourse to the rule of law.
“He acted unprofessionally for a career civil servant and has succeeded in misleading those affected. Moreover, all those that were supposed to be retired are still working as we await further directives.
“I am also not not aware of any circular from the FEO stopping anyone’s salary. The directorate is not even directly involved with salary payment because we are on IPPIS,” the vice principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent.
Further findings showed that some officers may have seen the impressive development of police owned schools of the country under CP Rabi Umar and believe that it was a cash cow and not dedication and commitment, therefore, are angling to give her bad press and see her pushed out.
“It is unfortunate that people will tell lies just to see that they have their way. Because CP Rabi Umar has repositioned these schools and they are all wearing new looks and have quality output, some people are bent on seeing her pushed aside in the hope they will be named into her position. “If it is not so, why will anybody say she has refused to obey the directive of the FG and IGP? Who is the police officer that can do that,” another senior police officer queried.
Efforts to get reaction the Force Headquarters on the development was not successful as at the time of going to press as the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CP Frank Mba, and the FEO could not be reached on phone and did not respond to text messages sent to them.