Written by Godfrey AKON

HND, Bsc dichotomy: stakeholders vow to shut down OHCSF

A coalition of Higher National Diploma, HND, holders has vowed to shut down activities at Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, OHCSF, over its failure to implement the white paper on the removal of undue dichotomy and ceiling on the career progression of HND holders in the public service.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the HND stakeholders noted that the white paper which was issued 14 years ago, in December 2006, for the OHCSF to implement the document as approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has remained in limbo till date.

The white paper which was sighted by newsmen at the presser recommended that “It is desirable for purposes of relativity that entrants into the Public Service where such Organizations, Agencies of Institutions operate HAPSS, HATHSS must have the full opportunity to reach the highest grade if they are found competent.”

Government’s views and comments were that “Government accepts this recommendation and directs further that: (i) The undue dichotomy and ceiling on the Salary Grade Level/Rank attainable by Higher National Diploma holders should be removed.

“(ii) OND or its equivalent from any Government recognized institution should be regarded as the new minimum point of entry. (ii) Salary Grade level 01-05 should be phased out by 1st January, 2008. (iv) The current scheme of service should be reviewed to reflect the above recommendation. Justification This is in line with the ideas and spirit behind the current reform programme of the Government.”

Coordinator of the coalition, Comrade Sebastian Onyemaobi blamed the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for the continued discrimination, stigmatization and undue stagnation of HND holders on grade level, GL, 14-15.

Onyemaobi noted that there is no justifiable reason for the retrogressive action of the Head of Service other than colonial legacies and outdated class-concept approach as well as mere ego, over protection of one category of certificate holders to the other and the certificate-based ideology in public service administration as against globally acceptable performance-based approach.

The coalition is made up of HND holders in the public service, HND graduates under the aegis of Higher National Diploma Holders Association of Nigeria, HNDHAN, National Association of Technologists in Engineering, NATE, Students of Federal, State and Private Polytechnics, Monotechnics, and other Related Institutions under the National Association of Polytechnics Students, NAPS, as well as Trade Unions Covering HND Holders in the Public Services across the Country.

Irked by the continuous delay in carrying out the white paper decisions affecting HND holders, while all others have been implemented, the HND holders therefore issued a four-week ultimatum to the government to commence immediate implementation of the document or face serious industrial action.

Onyemaobi said on 6th June, 2018, the Buhari administration reaffirmed at the FEC that "The HND certificate will remain a legal tender in Nigeria and holders of such certificate will continue to be recognized as the equivalent of First-Degree holders without discriminatory remunerations and limit to progression in the work place."

Also speaking, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and visitor to the International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzor, said it was incumbent on the Head of Service, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, to do the needful and implement the white paper.

Isiguzor noted that the coalition only slowed down its action because of the Covid-19 pandemic which has slowed down activities in government and the fact that the National Association of Technologists in Engineering took the matter to court.

He assured that the coalition would not relent, adding that it was totally unacceptable for certain groups to enjoy benefits of their services while others are relegated.

“We want to send a clear signal to whoever holds the office of the Head of Service of Federation that we are not going to take this lying low. We may have slept over time but this time around we are going to mobilise our members across Nigeria and occupy that office until they do the needful,” he said.

He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to take the issue of implementing the white paper seriously as anything that affects a particular section affects the entire government.

In his remarks, the President of National Association of Polytechnic students, NAPS, Comrade Sunday Asuku, said Nigerian students will mobilise and disrupt any promotion examinations for grade level 15 and above as HND holders are not being allowed to sit for such exams.

“We may be forced to go down to the promotion centres and disturb them from writing this exams in case HND holders are not captured this time around. We sent a letter through the office the executive secretary of NBTE to the Head of Service since early this year but nothing has been done.

“We are supposed to have barricaded the office of the head of service but because of this coronavirus. So if anything is not done between now and 29th of next month, office of the head of service should expect our action. It should expect the reaction of Nigerian students this time around,” Asuku said.

 

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