The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) for his new national teaching policy which came into force last week. The new policy raised the retirement age and service from 60 to 65 and from 35 to 40 respectively; established a special salary scale; provided rural allowance; increased science allowance; promised automatic admission and free tuition for children of teachers in their places of work; automatic recruitment for education graduates, etc.
In its reaction, MURIC thanked the Nigerian president for putting smiles on the faces of teachers in the country. The human rights group described the development as a significant milestone in the history of education in Nigeria. This was revealed in a statement issued by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 12th October, 2020.
“Nigerian teachers have never had it so good. PMB has raised their level with the new teaching policy announced last week. Teachers can now raise their heads with pride as their reward which used to be in heaven has become a low-hanging fruit just waiting for them to stretch out their hands and pluck.
“The brain drain syndrome which Nigeria has been experiencing in the education sector is most likely to come to a halt or reduce drastically as a result of this humane gesture by the PMB-led Federal Government (FG). With the Buhari initiative, Nigeria is gradually moving close to global best practices in the welfare of teachers.
“Switzerland gives teachers the highest average salary in the world which is $110,000. This is keenly followed by Luxemburg : $100,000, Canada : $74,000, Germany : $70,000, Netherlands : $67,000, Australia : $67,000, United States : $60,000, Ireland $53,000 and Denmark : $52,500.
“These are whopping sums of money and they easily attract Nigerian teachers who are poorly paid. About 10,000 Nigerian university lecturers were in the United States alone seeking greener pastures as far back as 2010. This is in spite of the scarcity of the same lecturers in Nigerian universities. Britain lured 58 Nigerian doctors with 14 days per month work and N47.9 million annual salary in July 2020.
This point was corroborated in 2016 by Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) when he confirmed that Nigeria was in dire need of no less than 100,000 lecturers (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/07/we-need-100000-new-lecturers-for-nigerian-varsities-asuu/). Nigeria had 61,000 lecturers as at 2017 but this was no match for the student population of 1.9 million in the same year.
“At the level of primary and secondary schools whose teachers are the direct beneficiaries of the new teaching policy, Nigeria had 764,596 primary school teachers, 292,080 teachers in junior secondary schools and 398,275 teachers at the secondary school level as at 2016. But that was four years ago. Though recent data is not readily available, the new policy will impact the lives of no less than two million teachers in the public sector. This is a tremendous leap.
“It is another feather in PMB’s cap. Buhari is rebuilding Nigeria and history is going to register him as the ‘Father of Modern Nigeria’. To those who criticise MURIC for always praising President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), we say, ‘What say you on PMB’s largesse to teachers? Is it reforming or reactionary? Is it Fulanisation or Islamisation? Show us a palatial house bought by PMB in Paris, London or Luxemburg. Blow the whistle on a single foreign account belonging to Buhari in any part of the world and we will join you in tongue-lashing him. PMB will do better without all these unnecessary distractions and unobjective criticisms.
“We are aware that Nigeria’s leading political parties are like six and a half dozen and political prostitutes are in all of them in large number. Few of them have ideological focus, principle and discipline. Our support for PMB has nothing to do with his political party or his faith. Rather, the raison d’etre for our admiration for PMB lies in his austere way of life, his high level integrity and his Everest-height patience. Above all, we are motivated by love for our great country, Nigeria.
“On the contrary, corrupt elements hate PMB because he has closed the tap from which free and dirty money flows. Such people also hate MURIC because we promote the ideals of the man they hate. We can understand. It is called transferred aggression.
“Perhaps Nigerians will understand us better when, in future, we give equal support to any leader who brandishes the same qualities particularly if such a leader is not a Muslim or in the same political party with PMB. MURIC will remain nonpartisan, detribalised and devoid of any form of gymnastic religiousity.
“We urge Mr. President to remain focused and to replicate the same feat in the health sector where strikes are too frequent for comfort. At least two thousand doctors migrated to other countries in the last few years. As at 2018, only 74,543 doctors attend to a population of 200 million ((https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2019/4/8/nigerias-medical-brain-drain-healthcare-woes-as-doctors-flee). This stands in sharp contrast to 91,375 practicing medical doctors attending to 37.59 million people in Canada as at 2019. The implication is that in Canada, 241 doctors attend to only 100,000 patients while in Nigeria a single doctor attends to 2,683 people! Better welfare will make working at home more attractive to our medical doctors
“MURIC calls on teachers around the country to prove their mettle through improved performance, dedication and high level professionalism. To whom much is given, much is expected. Our teachers must allow FG’s kind gesture to reflect in the performance of pupils. The mass failure which was recorded in the WAEC examinations of 2018 and 2019 is unacceptable. Only 3,102 out of 12, 202 candidates (26.08%) passed in a minimum of five subjects in 2019. Only 17.5% passed in 2018. It is hoped that PMB’s latest intervention will bring the desired improvement in the shortest time possible.”