By Adedapo Adesanya
A bill to abolish the discrimination between holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) has been passed by the Senate.
The landmark bill was passed on Wednesday and the president of the upper chamber of the parliament, Mr Ahmad Lawan, said this will serve as a motivation to HND holders from polytechnics and monotechnics.
“This particular (HND discrimination) issue has been on 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 it is a way of encouraging our polytechnic graduates.
“This should not take away the kind of training they give but should be a motivation for our polytechnic graduates,” he said.
The bill, sponsored by Mr Ayo Akinyelure, proposed to resolve the controversy over wage disparity and gross discrimination against HND holders in the public and private sectors of the economy.
It also sought to promote Nigeria’s technological advancement by encouraging many qualified candidates to pursue polytechnic and technological studies.
Mr Akinyelure said the discrimination against HND holders threatens to ruin the nation’s core policy thrust of evolving a technological and scientifically based society.
He said findings had proved that some polytechnic graduates were, in some cases, better on the field than their university counterparts.
“A government employment policy that places degree holders ahead of HND holders without recourse to the skill and ability of the HND holders, thereof, does more harm than good to the nation’s development plans,” Mr Akinyelure said.
Some senators, however, argued that rather than seeking to abolish the dichotomy, efforts should be made to transform all polytechnics into degree-awarding institutions.
The bill scaled the third reading on Wednesday after the lawmakers received and considered the report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions submitted by Mr Ahmad Kaita, which contained six clauses.
Mr Kaita said the bill, when signed by the President, will give polytechnic graduates confidence and impact the country’s economy, positively.
The lawmakers, thereafter, did a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in the Committee of the Whole, after which it was passed.
The bill passage is sequel to the adoption of a report by the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.
Presenting the report, Committee Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Shekarau, said the bill would help free HND holders from stagnation in public and private sectors and ensure balanced treatment for them with their university counterparts.
The bill is expected to be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.