“We are in possession of documents which suggest that the affected teachers’ salaries and benefits are being diverted by senior officials.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, to “urgently probe alleged stealing of teachers’ salaries and benefits in several Federal Government colleges across the country, and punish suspected perpetrators.”
In the petition dated August 4 and signed by SERAP’s executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization said that, “SERAP has carried out a survey and interviewed hundreds of teachers in Federal Government colleges across the country. Among others, our investigations revealed that while many of the teachers interviewed have been promoted to a higher salary scale, their adjusted salaries which accrued as a result of the promotions have not been paid for more than 8 years.”
“We are in possession of documents which suggest that the affected teachers’ salaries and benefits are being diverted by senior officials in the Ministry of Education and with the complicity of some officials in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation,” the organization also said.
The organization expressed concern that “this situation, apart from constituting a violation of the teachers’ right to work, will impact negatively on the morale of the affected teachers, thus undermining the effective discharge of their teaching responsibilities to millions of Nigerian children. We believe that teachers will perform better if they are paid their duly entitlements and benefits.”
“We are bringing this matter to the attention of your good office, so that you can order a thorough investigation into the allegations. The investigation should cover the last ten (10) years. This investigation is necessary for the sake of transparency and accountability but also in the ultimate interest of the teachers at Federal Government Colleges and the students’ academic and educational progress.
The organization also said that, “The outcome of the investigation should be made public and anyone found to be responsible be brought to justice according to due process. All the teachers’ outstanding salaries and benefits must be duly paid. We are of the sincere and firm opinion that as a seasoned Educationist yourself, the implication of the continuation of the situation will not be lost on you.”
This is not the first time SERAP has raised issues of corruption in the education sector. It would be recalled that following SERAP’s petition, alleging corruption and mismanagement of funds allocated for basic education in ten states of the Federation of Nigeria, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, in October 2007 reported recovering more than N488 million of funds looted from state offices and headquarters of the Universal Basic Education Commission. The case was subsequently taken to the ECOWAS Court, which pronounced that Nigerian children have a right to free education. However, since the judgment was delivered in November 2010, the government has neither acknowledged the judgment nor taken steps to implement the letter and spirit of the judgment.