Senator Saraki: Photo Credit: file copy

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said that teachers’ salaries should be given priority over capital expenditure.

He said the Senate would work towards ensuring that salaries of teachers were paid promptly.

Saraki also asked the government to leave capital investments to the private sector in order to enable it to focus on social infrastructure such as regular payment of teachers’ salaries.

The senate president spoke on Friday at the 2016 Founder’s Day lecture of the King’s College, Lagos.

Saraki, who is an old boy of the college, regretted that the school had yet to resume academic activities because teachers were owed salaries.

He said, “The challenge is that we give priority to capital expenditure over the payment of teachers’ salaries. That is emphasising quantity over quality. Salaries are more important than capital expenditure and salaries of teachers cannot be left as a responsibility of the local government.

“In developed countries, governments focus on social infrastructure like payment of salaries and leave the private sector to deal with the provision of rails, roads and other capital investments.

“These have been taken over by the private sector, leaving government to focus on social infrastructure. Education is no longer an interesting sector for teachers to go into. I have taken it up at the Senate and until something happens, nobody is going to have peace.”

He said competent Nigerians had been shunning public service, noting that governance would continue to be defective until competent hands showed interest in public service.

The senate president recalled that he was hesitant in 2000 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as the Special Adviser on Special Duties.

He said “I was already an Executive Director in a bank and I said, ‘What I am I going to do with that?’ I refused until a friend told me to take it up. He told me titles do not mean anything in service. He said ‘Even if they make you a personal assistant in charge of cleaning in Aso Villa, service is what you make out of it.’ I eventually asked to be made a Special Assistant on Budget and it became one of the most important appointments in the Presidency.”

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