By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Hammed Shittu
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) yesterday commenced a three-day nationwide protest in a bid to compel the federal government to include non-teaching staff in primary and post primary schools in the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill (2021).
The bill, which would soon be transmitted to the National Assembly for enactment into law, allows teaching staff of primary and secondary schools in the country to retire at the age 65 instead of 60 years as provided in their existing scheme of service.
The bill also seeks to extend the years of service to 40 years from the current 35 years as well as special salary scale and enhanced allowances.
However, the federal government had excluded the non-teaching staff from the planned legislation.
President Muhammadu Buhari, during the celebration of Teachers’ Day in 2020, had announced the new incentives for teachers in public basic and secondary schools in Nigeria.
Addressing the protest at the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday, the NASU Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council Chairman, Adebola Bamidele, said since the announcement by President Buhari, the non-teaching staff have been pushing for their inclusion in the new condition of service.
He said: “But it appears the federal government has forgotten us. We have been making efforts to see that the president also includes non-teaching staff in the scheme of things. But now a bill is about to be passed to the National Assembly for consideration, and that is why we considered that we have to come out and make our demands known to the federal government and National Assembly.
“Already, a letter has been sent by the leadership of NASU to the National Assembly and the ministers. So, we are only here to hold this sensitisation rally.”
Bamidele explained that non-teaching staff members deserve to be included in the new condition of service, as they are the engine room in schools.
According to him the federal government should include the non-teaching staff in the approved Special Teacher Pension Scheme to guarantee better welfare for them in retirement and also extend their retirement age to 65 years and length of service to 40 years.
He said: “The non-teaching staff in the basic and post primary schools possess requisite certificates and complement the teaching staff. Therefore, our interest should be accommodated by the government in the ongoing reform.”
The union, therefore, urged the federal and state governments to put an end to what it described as discriminatory industrial relations practices against the non-teaching staff in the primary and post primary schools system.
On his part, the Chairman of Abuja NASU branch (the FCT Universal Basic Education Board), Andrew Zakari, said: “We see the step as divisive, discriminatory and unhealthy for the system because we work in the same environment. We are the ones that compliment what the teachers do.”