Coalition of Higher National Diploma, HND holders in Nigeria, on Monday vehemently kicked against dichotomy between them and university degree holders by throwing their weight behind a bill sponsored to that effect in the Senate.
This was as stakeholders in Okunland of Kogi State pleaded with the National Assembly to pass a bill seeking the upgrading of the College of Agriculture in Kabba to a full-fledged University of Agriculture.
The two groups spoke at a public hearing session organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETUND, chaired by Senator Ahmed Baba-Kaita on bills sponsored to that effect by Senators Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central) and Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), respectively.
While the first bill seeks for the abolition and prohibition of discrimination between university first degree and Higher National Diploma degree holders in public service, the second one is seeking for an Act to establish Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba from the present College of Agriculture which has been serving as a campus of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria in Kabba since 1971.
Speaking at the session, the National Coordinator of HND stakeholders, Sebastien Onyemaobi, in a 34 – page memorandum submitted to the committee said the dichotomy which started in 1955 during the colonial regime must stop.
But the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Service, Policies and Strategies in her office, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, said there would be need for review of curriculum of universities and polytechnics before the dichotomy could be abolished.
Yemi-Esan said though the dichotomy at entry level into public service between university and polytechnics graduates has been removed, that progression of Level 14 upward still exists.
Based on this, she explained that polytechnic graduates will have to acquire a post graduate diploma or Master’s degree before advancing further from Level 14.
On the agitation for upgrading the College of Agriculture in Kabba, the Obaro of Kabba, Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi, appealed to the authorities of ABU, to release the school for the upgrading to a full-fledged university.
The traditional ruler recalled that when the bill was attended to in 2017 by the Eighth Senate, authorities of ABU kicked against it on the ground that the college as it is today is a campus of the university.
“I’m happy that the chairman of this committee in his remarks said there’s no opposition against the bill yet in the ongoing legislative process, but I want to on behalf of the entire Okun people, beg ABU to release this school and allow it to be upgraded,” he said.
He added that of all the Federal Colleges of Agriculture established across the country from 1960s to 1990s only that of Kabba still remained a college while the others have been upgraded to universities.
“Other Colleges of Agriculture established in Abeokuta, Akure, Makurdi and Umudike are now full-fledged Universities of Agriculture .
“The one in Kabba should not be left at the level of college but also upgraded to full-fledged university as well captured and proposed by the bill sponsored by our Senator, Smart Adeyemi,” Oba Owoniyi explained.
In his submission, Senator Adeyemi said the College of Agriculture in Kabba, was long overdue for upgrading into a full-fledged university like the former ones in Makurdi, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi.
He also declared that in line with the diversification policy of the present government, there is a need for establishment of two Federal Universities of Agriculture in each of the six geo-political zones.
In his closing remarks, chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmad Baba-Kaita, said all the views and submissions made by the various stakeholders will guide the committee in its final report.
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