By SUMAYYAH ADEFAKA
An Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has appealed to the Zamfara State Government (ZASG) to pay the entitlements of retired teachers, contract workers and other retirees before the gubernatorial elections are held in February 2023. According to the group, it is only by doing so that the state government can claim to be responsible and humane.
This was disclosed in a statement released on Monday, 9th January, 2023 by the director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
According to the circular, it was stated that,
“Some retired teachers and contract workers who worked in Zamfara State but whose entitlements are yet to be paid have reached out to the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC). They are facing hunger, starvation and abject poverty. They now live in inhuman conditions with nothing to eat from morning till evening. They found themselves at the bottom of the towering pyramid of misery and became executive beggars overnight.
“Men and women who have worked in the state for more than twelve years under the Zamfara State Teachers Service Board, Gusau, are being disengaged without notice since 2020 till today. Those disengaged even at the end of the month are not paid salary for that month.
“This practice is illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional. Apart from the legal angle, Islam as a religion lays emphasis on good treatment of workers, empathy and kindness. Disengaging workers without notice and for no professional anomaly is an infringement on their Allah-given fundamental human rights.
“Besides, welfare package in Zamfara State civil service appears to be non-existent. The education sector is the worst hit by this poor treatment of workers. There is no promotion for teachers, no annual salary increment, no minimum wages, no pension and no compensation of any kind.
“The classroom scenario is worse than what obtains in refugee camps. A single teacher handles more than a hundred pupils in a poorly ventilated classroom. The libraries are so badly equipped that teachers have to go on internet to source for materials for their notes of lesson. Science subjects receive little or no patronage from students because the laboratories are fit only for the Stone Age.
“The problem can be traced to the low percentage allocated to education in the state’s budget every year. For instance, although Government House alone received N21.8 billion of the N142.7 billion budget in 2021, education, health and works together got a paltry N19.36 billion. Whereas the amount and percentage of the N159.5 billion 2022 budget is still not well known, education still featured very low in the 2023 budget as the crucial zone received a meager N21.2 billion out of a robust figure of N188.8 billion which translates to 11.2%.
“MURIC appeals to the state government to pay its retirees before this coming gubernatorial election. The education sector must put on a human face and prepare for urgent overhauling. Economic progress in the state depends on the seriousness with which the state government approaches education matters in the state. The time to do this is now.
“The case of serving and retired teachers need urgent attention if only the state government appreciates the role teachers play in the lives of those who are benefiting from education today. It was teachers who taught those who are in positions of authority today, from the permanent secretaries to the state governor. Who among them did not pass through teachers?
“We are aware that the case of Zamfara may not be an isolated one as there may be worse situations in other states. We therefore urge all state actors to borrow a leaf from this advocacy.”