Polytechnic graduates in Nigeria are set to step into a new world of recognition as the Nigerian Senate has passed a bill prohibiting employers from discriminating between First Degree and Higher National Diploma (HND).
When the law is signed, HND and Degree holders would be placed on the same salary scale of level 8 in the public service. Currently, HND graduates are employed on grade level 7 and degree holders on level 8.
Although there have been efforts in the past to rectify the discrepancy including policy statements by the Federal Government, the practice persists.
In the private sector especially banks, polytechnic graduates are hardly employed, and where they are lucky to be considered, they are recruited as non-pension workers.
Removal of the discrepancy is one of the demands of polytechnic lecturers who have been on strike for more than 10 months over this and other issues.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters, Tertiary Institutions, and TETFUND.
Chairman of the joint committee, Ibrahim Shekarau (APC, Kano Central), said “the enactment of the bill to abolish and prohibit discrimination between First Degree and HND for the purpose of employment in Nigeria will no doubt free holders of HND from stagnation and ensure balanced treatment with their counterparts from other higher tertiary institutions in Nigeria.”
The chairman noted that the abolishment of the existing dichotomy between HND holders and graduates of universities would meet the huge manpower needs of Nigerians, ensure social justice and enhanced corporate governance, as well encourage patriotic contributions amongst HND employees in both public and private sectors.
The Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the bill was passed, emphasised that the passage of the bill would serve as motivation for polytechnic graduates.
He, therefore, called on the public and private sectors to ensure the implementation of the bill’s provisions as soon as it is signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Lawan said “This particular issue has been in the front burner for a long time. I recall that in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, this was one bill that was so important, and is one way of encouraging our Polytechnic graduates.
“That should not take away from the kind of training they receive, but, in fact, it is supposed to be a motivation for our polytechnic graduates.
“I pray that the Federal Government and all those government agencies and the private sector would start to implement this by the time the President assents to this bill.”
With the passage of the bill into law, observers are optimistic that striking polytechnic lecturers may consider suspending their ongoing strike