Comrade Nasir Idris (Ph.D) is the National President, National Union of Teachers (NUT). In this interview with AHMED IDRIS, he talks on the insecurity in the country, especially the North- West, North Central and North-East, where bandits attack schools and abduct students and teachers for ransom, his ambition to succeed Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State among other issues
Secondary schools have come under attacks of bandits as students and teachers became targets of kidnappers. Huge sums of money were paid as ransom. As the National President of the National Union of Teachers, how do you see this?
Insecurity which is worsening by the day is a serious challenge which everybody should be concerned about. It is impacting negatively on education. It would be recalled that school pupils were abducted in Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states. Teachers and students are now endangered species.
At the level of the National Union of Teachers, we want the government to do all to secure the schools if not schools will be deserted as there will be no students to go to those schools. Teachers too will take the line of least resistance.
The bandits are capitalizing and concentrating on kidnapping because of the money they are making in the form of ransom. What we are telling the federal as well as state governments that our schools should be well secured. This they can do by employing more men into our security agencies. Perimeter fencing should be provided for all schools.
Most of our schools are not fenced. Most of the schools where abduction occurred are not fenced and they too located in remote areas away from the centre cities. Most of the schools are like open bush and this makes it easy for the bandits to match their victims away into forests.
Despite what has happened and the incessant abduction of students, would the teachers be willing to go back to their jobs and the students go to school?
Well, for us as teachers we are always ready to do our jobs. But the problem is if the experience of the students and their parents is anything to go by, some of them who have been victims may not go back.
It will also be difficult if not impossible to convince the parents to allow their children go back to school. The government has a lot to do to secure education and at the same time ensure that our students continue to learn under a conducive and secured environment in this country.
What would you say are your achievements since you came in as the president of all teachers in the country?
We are doing all we can to make teaching attractive to the younger generation. At the time we came in, nobody wants to be a teacher anymore.
The once attractive and noble profession has become endangered. If you can recall, a time was when community leaders and reputable leaders in the community were principals, headmasters and teachers
. But after a while nobody wanted to have anything to do with the teaching profession as teachers were owed salaries and the teaching profession ran into troubled waters.
So when we came in we looked at the whole scenario and we felt the federal and the state governments can do a lot. We made proposals to the federal government to extend the years of service from 65 to 70 in tertiary institutions while teachers in secondary schools will be 60 – 65 years, while those in primary schools can serve till 40 years.
The Federal Government was magnanimous and gracious enough to accept the proposal and enacted law to back it up. All the teachers in our polytechnics and Colleges of education can enjoy it. We had a shortage of teachers because those who retired were not replaced, because State governments were not recruiting teachers, even if they wanted they could not attract the best brains.
Also, we made proposals for new salary structures for teachers as well as housing. The president approved them. We are now waiting for the Bill to be sent to the National Assembly. The National Assembly too saw reasons with the NUT and accepted that we have a case and they approved it.
It has passed through the First Reading but the only problem that time was that the president had not bought into it when the Bill was being sent to him for assent. Due to the time frame, he had to send it back to the NASS.
We are working with National Assemble to ensure that they pass it to the president so that he can assent to it.
By the time the president assented to it, it became for teachers a law in the sense that every teacher, any applicants also union encouraged us to read education because if they read education they will get automatic employment because the federal and state government need teachers.
So that is why we are working with other principal stakeholders to ensure that this bill has achieved and also teachers to start enjoying the new salary structure and the extension of years of service.
Some youths recently came out in Kebbi State to campaign for you to contest the governorship position in 2023. Will you throw your hat into the ring?
You see the issue of politics we are still in the service and the issue of politics is different. Everybody’s free to voice out his own opinion.
As I am talking to you, I have never come out and say I want to become a governor of Kebbi State, but the youth and not only youth including politicians are mentioning and going about with my name saying that they want me to contest.
I am consulting and by the time I finish my consultation, I will let the people know. If I want to contest, I will resign my current job to pursue my political ambition.
What is your advice to the youth?
My general advice to the youth is that they should not allow themselves to be used as thugs in the society. They should be self-employed, as they are the leaders of tomorrow. Governments should create and establish a conducive atmosphere for them to pursue their ambitions.