The National Assembly has passed the bill and presented it to Mr Buhari for assent before it can become law.
The Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the bill seeking an end to the discrimination between Bachelor’s Degree and Higher National Diploma (HND) holders in the Nigerian civil service into law.
The National Assembly has passed the “Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination between First Degree and Higher National Diploma in the Same Profession/Field for the Purpose of Employment; and for Related Matters,” and has presented it to Mr Buhari for assent before it can become a law.
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The bill is seeking to legislate the discrimination of polytechnic graduates from their university counterparts in employment and promotion in the workplace.
The bill also seeks to end the discrimination that stakeholders in the polytechnics have, which for long they sought an end to.
As it currently stands, Bachelor’s holders offered in the universities are ranked better than the HND awarded in the polytechnics.
Unlike the graduates of universities, HND holders cannot rise to Grade Level (GL) 17 in the civil service. Also, at the entry level in the civil service, polytechnic graduates are placed on GL07 while university graduates are placed on GL08.
After multiple agitations proved futile, legislation became the last hope in getting the dichotomy abolished, NATE President, Dominic Idoatan, said at a briefing on Friday.
Since 2006, the government has attempted to end the discrimination by pronouncing and constituting committees to look into the matter.
“But it is sad to observe that even when the White Paper was released on the above subject matter, some people are thwarting the implementation of the recommendations of the White Paper,” he said.
“The only option left was the legislative route.”
By November 2021, both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the bill sponsored by Ayo Akinyelure, a senator.
Mr Idoatan, therefore, called on Mr Buhari to sign the bill into law before the end of his tenure on 29 May.
He said the continuous discrimination against polytechnic graduates, whom he described as technologists, has set the country back in areas of technology-driven development.
He said: “The discrimination against HND holders in Engineering, in particular, has dampened and demoralised the morale of technologists, thereby resulting in low productivity.
“Nigeria, yet to embrace technology and technologists, has over the years become net importers of manufactured goods and has generally witnessed a poor standard of living, net negative balance sheet, and low per capita income.”
Mr Idoatan also appealed to the Head of Service of the Federation and the Attorney General of the Federation to give their support for the signing of the bills.
“We wish to appeal to Mr President to assent to the bill on the abolition of HND, a first-degree signed dichotomy that is now before him. If the bill is graciously signed by the president, posterity will forever remember him as the president that has signed bills such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 22 Electoral Amendment Bill, and Hopefully the 2023 HND, First Degree Dichotomy abolition bill that has touched the lives of Nigerians and Nigeria Economy,” he said.
The leadership and members of the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), and the Senior Staff Union of Polytechnics (SSANIP) among other groups have long described the policy as discriminatory and unfair. They also made several calls for the government to abolish the policy that forces polytechnic graduates to retire in lower cadres of civil services than their counterparts who graduated from the universities.
The bill passed by the national assembly has been a major leap for the agitations, but the president has yet to assent to the bill.