Since 2015, teachers in Bida local government told me that there was a particular desk officer in the LGA who deducted their salaries monthly. I did a little digging and found that many people have found cause to complain about the guy. It was discovered that he has been sharing salaries with some teachers for up to seven years because he sold the appointment letters to those teachers.
Also, in some months, salaries were deducted without explanation. When confronted, he was reported to have said: “Do whatever you want! Tell whoever you want.” The victims actually proposed two solutions to me.
However, my first resolve was to go to the guy and tell him off. But an uncle told me that in matters like this, I should first tell the most superior officer. In this case, it was the permanent secretary in the ministry of education.
Actually, earlier, this permanent secretary had solved the problem of a corrupt principal immediately I informed him about it. So I was confident that he would do something in this second case. I wasn’t disappointed. In my presence, he made a phone call and caused the education secretary in Bida to be summoned to Minna.
Weeks later, I asked the permsec about the problem and he told me that it was being handled. But I sensed that he wasn’t as enthusiastic as the first time. Did the education secretary convince him otherwise? I just wanted an investigation to be done and was willing to provide witnesses.
So it wasn’t at all surprising when I visited Bida last weekend and the teachers told me that the guy is still in office doing what led to their discontents. That is, he hasn’t been transferred to the classroom to taste the difficulties of teaching. This was one of the proposals of the teachers. Although I thought that would be too mild a punishment.
However, their second suggestion impressed me. Teachers should be paid directly from Minna, the state capital, they said. This is a systemic solution that would limit human intervention in the payment of their salaries.
At the moment, because primary school teachers are under the local government administration, their salaries are first sent to the 25 local councils in the state from where teachers are paid. This gives the corruption inclined officials to declare open season on the teachers’ extremely poor salaries.
So I took the teachers’ suggestion to top functionaries in the state. I talked to the governor’s finance committee. I talked to previous finance directors and the bosses at SUBEB (State Universal Basic Education Board). Some told me that it wasn’t possible to pay local government teachers from Minna. Why? I pressed. But after our conversations, they were the ones suggesting how it could be easily done in the state.
Deduction of teachers’ liabilities (such as cooperatives contributions) was one of the reasons they earlier gave for why salaries couldn’t be paid directly. But with computers and today’s technology, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
But this has not been done. I’m certain the governor doesn’t know that the teachers are so cheated. Even though I informed him that teachers are requesting that they should be paid directly from Minna.
Yet, the governor shouldn’t be micromanaging everything. It is the reason why the system has delegated some of the powers to commissioners and permanent secretaries.
For example, if a local government official is cheating teachers, the governor does not have to know before the right thing is done.
But most importantly, the elites of Bida (who claim to be more educated than the people from other parts of the state) should be ashamed of themselves, if one undereducated moron cheats their teachers and nothing is done about it.