Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has promised to resolve issues of non-remittance of pension deductions made from the salaries of FCT Primary School Teachers by the FCT Area Councils.
The FCT Minister who made this promise recently when the Standing Committee of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, FCT Chapter, paid him a visit in Abuja, said the FCT Administration might be compelled to make deductions at source from the allocations of Area Councils, if it is proven that they actually spent this money on other items.
Bello who was responding to requests by the teachers to look into their welfare, including several months of unremitted pension deductions made from their salaries, said every necessary steps will be taken to ensure that these funds are paid into their Pensions Fund Account.
The Minister said, “I believe our Area Council Service Commission and office of the Auditor General, Area Councils is looking at some of these things. We will look at it and make sure that if the deductions have been made at the point of payment of salary, then we want to know where the money is. If by any chance the Area Councils used the money for their own expenses, we will set up a team then we identify and whatever is due to be remitted, we will make sure that it is removed at source so that it is remitted and the accounts will be balanced.”
Malam Bello explained that the policy of the FCT Administration is that all pension deductions made from workers salaries must be invested into their pension account without delay.
He said, “We have made a lot of progress trying to make sure that for each deduction made, immediately the deductions are remitted to the PFA account because the whole idea of the PFA account is for money to be invested in each person’s account. So, if you just keep the money and you don’t post it, it’s unfair to the staff. But I will check and see what the issues are.”
Bello who also commended FCT school teachers for their level of commitment to education in the FCT, said the successes attained by students in FCT schools is a reflection of the quality of education that they have been receiving.
He said, “I share with you and thank you for all the efforts you have been making with respect to education in the FCT, especially taking into account all the challenges that every teacher faces, with the influx of people into the FCT and also the influx of others that require educational facilities, even from the surrounding States.
“But we thank you because even with the challenges, you find that products in the FCT usually excel during public competitions. Already, we have a team that are on their way to Thailand or Philippine where they are representing Nigeria in a particular competition and we have about five students and two teachers from the FCT. That’s a reflection of your work.”
The FCT Minister however appealed to the teachers to rise to the challenge of ensuring that FCT schools are kept clean and healthy at all times.
“One thing that is of great concern to me is sanitation in the schools and I find that they are really dirty. These are things that as teachers all of us will reflect when we were in school. Every student had a portion to sweep and clean. But now you go to the schools and you find that the perimeter fence of almost every public school is a dumping site. They will sweep and dump.
“It is the duty of those of you who are administrators or head teachers, head masters or school principals; it’s very important. Every student used to go to school with his hoe, broom and cutlass. Those students who cannot hoe will sweep. Those who cannot sweep will be packing. But it seems you are pampering the students too much. You have to do that so that they start becoming self sufficient adults. I will like to see changes in FCT schools because really they are very dirty.
Earlier in his remarks Chairman FCT NUT Standing Committee Comrade Stephen Knabayi, appreciated the FCT Minister for the prompt payment of salaries of FCT teachers, saying, “As we speak to you now, we have received our August salary. We want to say thank you.”
Comrade Knabayi who noted that the union was aware of so many other things that the FCT Administration was doing to improve education in the FCT, specifically commended the Minister for supporting the establishment of Nigeria-Korea Model school in FCT, through which so many teachers have been trained in different batches and exposed to ICT.
He however appealed to the Minister to look into the issue of promotion of teachers to boost their morale. “We know the importance of promotion to teachers that is what boosts the morale of teachers. Promote us, give us our necessary entitlement and we would be comfortable in the classroom sir” he pleaded.
Chief Press Secretary to Hon. Minister of FCT
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