Report reaching our news desk has it that, The polytechnics alumni, under the auspices of the Higher National Diploma (HND) Holders’ Association of Nigeria, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to stop discrimination against polytechnics graduates in public service in the country or face legal action.

Specifically, the association urged the Federal Government to remove the placement of Grade Level 14 ceiling on career progression of HND holders in the public service.

The association’s legal adviser, Mr Kelvin Emeka Okoro, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, on Tuesday, lamented that holders of HND certificates had been subjected to all manners of “injustice, hatred, discrimination and stagnation in the public service, irrespective of their competencies and performance.”

The association also called on the Federal Government to ensure speedy resolution of the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) for the students to return back the school.

Okoro, however, accused the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation as being the stumbling block towards the removal of the dichotomy between polytechnics and universities graduates.

According to him, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, in one of its landmark resolutions on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, noted that “HND certificates would remain a legal tender in Nigeria and holders of such certificate would continue to be recognised as equivalent of first degree without discriminatory remuneration and limit to progression in work place.”

He said this was in addition to other avalanche of presidential directives and panel’s recommendations on the need to remove the HND/B.Sc dichotomy.

Okoro added that the association had been relentless in its appeal for the removal of the dichotomy, as well as implementation of the Government White Paper on the report of Presidential Committee on Consolidation of Emoluments in the Public Service on September 27, 2006.

“The association, at two separate periods, in March and August, 2011, respectively wrote appeal to relevant agencies, including the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, without any positive response.

“Recently, the association wrote several letters to various stakeholders, including, HOS Office, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Human Rights Commission.
“Having received no single response to the above, the association further forwarded a pre-action notice, dated March 31, which expired at the beginning of this month (May), yet, there was no response.

“The option left for the association is to address this World Press Conference and thereafter, approach the appropriate Court for the actualisation of this landmark decision of the Federal Government,” Okoro said.

In a related development, the Federal Government has taken steps toward resolving the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), with inauguration of a committee on Tuesday, to bridge the dichotomy between holders of HND and B.Sc.

While inaugurating the committee, Supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, said it was in line with the final process of resolving one of the key demands of the ASUP, who had been on strike.

Tagged the Technical Review Committee on the Contents and Curriculum of HND, the inter-ministerial committee has three terms of reference and three weeks to submit its report.

The terms of reference included (a) review the curriculum for HND graduates (b) introduction of a bridging course that will pave the way for the recognition of HND to reach the Highest Grade Level in the public service and (c) design a programme to enable the polytechnics award B.Tech degree which is equivalent to degree.

The committee, which has the permanent secretary of Federal Ministry of Education as chairman, has members drawn from the Ministry of Labour, office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, office of the Head of Civil service of the Federation, National Board for Technical Education and National Universities Commission.

Other members were drawn from the National Commission for Colleges of Education, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association and the President of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics.

The minister urged members to work hard within stipulated time to resolve the challenge posed by the dichotomy.

In his response, chairman of the committee and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala, assured the minister that the review would be completed in three weeks.

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