EXCLUSIVE: Staff of Nigeria’s Teachers Institute petition minister over suspension of their employment

A group of newly recruited staff of the National Teachers Institute, NTI, Kaduna, has petitioned the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, over the suspension of their appointments by the new management of the institute.

The suspension of the 150 new staff was effected at the point of capture of their data in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) at the office of Accountant General in Abuja, allegedly on the orders of the new Director General of the institute, Garba Azare.

In their petition, dated October 29 and signed on their behalf by Habibu Balarabe and Muktar Barau, the affected workers said they were employed by the institute, sequel to approval granted the institute for a staff replacement exercise.

They said the approval had been granted by the minister as the final part of the process, through a letter dated March 9, with reference no. NTI/D/HME/315/127.

The petition was copied to the Presidency, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Head of Civil Service, Chairman of Federal Character Commission, National Human Right Commission, Public Complaints Commission and President of Nigeria Labour Congress.

They said the NTI had also secured approval for their appointments from the Federal Character Commission (FCC), through a series of correspondences between the two organisations.

According to the petitioners, representatives of the FCC were also present at their recruitment interview conducted on March 23 and 24, after which the commission issued certificates of compliance to the institute over the recruitment process.

They said it was upon receipt of the certificates that the institute issued them letters of offer of appointment, to which they had duly conveyed their acceptance.

The petition continued: “Furthermore, individual files were opened for each new staff and file number issued thereto, (both open and secured file) and staff number issued. Account details were collected and registration with various insurance companies duly perfected.

“Moreover, the new staff were requested to go to Treasury House (Office of the Accountant General, Abuja) for IPPIS exercise between 4th and 8th August 2016. The exercise had already started with biometric capturing of some of us.

“To our utter dismay, the exercise was abruptly suspended on 5th August, 2016 for no reason and since then we were left to continue wallowing in financial turmoil and economic quagmire,” the petitioners added.

They lamented that a significant number of them are heads of families who had already resigned from their former places of employment.

A senior official of the NTI, who pleaded anonymity because he had no authority to speak on the issue, said the exercise was stopped by the new director general because he was only made aware of the exercise by someone at the Accountant General’s office.

“It was not part of his handing over note by the former DG, Ladan Sharehu”, he said.

The Acting Registrar of the NTI, Mahmoud Usman, confirmed the suspension of the appointments of the new recruits.

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in his office in Kaduna, Mr. Usman said the new Director General ordered suspension of the exercise because it was not included in the handing over note by his predecessor.

“The new Director General came in and the exercise took place as you rightly said in April 2016, while he was appointed on the 1st of August and resumed duty. In the handing over given to him, there was nothing in respect of giving employment.

“FCC invited us for an interactive session with the new Director General. We discussed thoroughly, and FCC itself wrote us back saying that they have withdrawn whatever waiver they had given. That is as far as I know”, the registrar said.

“So I believe when he got wind of it, he consulted with the Honourable Minister and then the DG gave a directive that the purported exercise of the enrolment of the IPPIS should stop”, Mr. Usman said.

But he said he was not familiar with the petition by the affected persons.

“The date you are talking of, I was not the registrar here and that letter of petition is not before us here”, he said.

But when contacted, the former DG said he had contacted the new DG over the matter.

Mr. Sharehu, an associate professor, said “(the new DG), whom I have a very good understanding with, told me the stoppage is not from him and that he would try to find out.”

On why the exercise was not included in his handing over note, Mr. Sharehu explained that the exercise had already been concluded and the candidates had been employed, hence there was no need to include it in the handing over note.

“You put in a handing over note something that is ongoing and not what had already been completed. FCC had certified. So, as far as I am concerned, we though it is a concluded exercise, so there was no need to include it in our handing over note.

“If I had known it is a precondition, why not? I would have included it and everything we had done in the past in the handing over note.

“Even the FCC commended the exercise, because about 32-35 states were captured across the country. To the best of my ability, I can defend this exercise anywhere,” he added.

The affected staff, however, pleaded for amicable resolution of the issue, “because when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffer.”

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