On Wednesday, the Senate read for the third time and passed a bill aimed at ending discrimination in the country between university graduates and holders of Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) from polytechnics. This comes two weeks after the House of Representatives took similar action.
The bill, which has now been passed by both houses, must now be signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari before the terms of the bill can be implemented.
Senator Patrick Ayo Akinyelure sponsored the bill, which was passed for the second time in April 2017.
It aims to eliminate alleged prejudice against polytechnic graduates and the difficulties that HND holders, particularly those in the public sector, encounter.
Senator Akinyelure had underlined during the Bill’s second reading that discrimination against HND holders could jeopardize the country’s key policy goal of developing a technological and scientifically based society.
According to the findings, some polytechnic graduates were better on the field than their university colleagues in several circumstances.
“A government employment policy that prioritizes degree holders over HND holders without regard for the HND holder’s talent and competence causes more harm than good to the nation’s development plans,” Akinyelure had remarked.
During preliminary, Senate President Ahmad Lawan stated that passing of the Bill would act as inspiration for polytechnic graduates.
He urged both the public and private sectors to ensure that the Bill’s provisions are implemented as soon as President Muhammadu Buhari signs it into law.
“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.”
The Nigerian House of Representatives had previously enacted a law that eliminated the distinction between the Polytechnic Higher National Diploma and the Bachelor of Science degrees awarded by Nigerian universities.
The bill, sponsored by Ali Isa and Edward Pwajok of Gombe and Plateau States, respectively, seeks to abolish perceived prejudice against polytechnic graduates and remove the hurdles that HND holders, particularly those in the public sector, encounter.
The senator expressed regret that such prejudice occurred in a crucial sector for national growth, lamenting the fact that there was a lot of segregation at the workplace.
Those with a first degree are assigned to Grade Level 8, whereas those with an HND are assigned to Grade Level 6 or 7.
He said that degree holders were paid N100,000 at entry level in some organizations, whereas HND holders were paid N70,000.