The Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law the bill seeking an end to the discrimination between Bachelor’s Degree and Higher National Diploma (HND) holders in the Nigerian civil service.

NATE President, Dominic Idoatan, made the call at a recent briefing in Abuja, saying “after multiple agitations proved futile, legislation became the last hope in getting the dichotomy abolished”.

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” was passed by the National Assembly and presented to Buhari for assent before it can become a law, Premium Times reports.

The bill is seeking to legislate against 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.

Currently, Bachelor’s Degrees awarded by universities are ranked better than HNDs awarded by polytechnics. Unlike university graduates, 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.

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. The only option left was the legislative route,” Idoatan said.

By November 2021, both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the bill sponsored by Ayo Akinyelure, a senator.

Idoatan, therefore, called on President Buhari to sign the bill into law before the end of his tenure on 29 May 2023.

He further said the continuous discrimination against polytechnic graduates, whom he described as technologists, has set the country back in areas of technology-driven development.

“The discrimination against HND holders in Engineering, in particular, has dampened and demoralised the morale of technologists, thereby resulting in low productivity,” Idoatan said.

“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,” he said.

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, first-degree 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), 2022 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.

Recall that 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 is yet to assent to the bill.