As it applies to the Armed Forces Selection Board and Police Service Commission for the Nigeria Armed Forces and Police respectively, the Civil Defence, Immigration and Prisons Services Board (CDIPB), is set up as a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Interior to administratively oversee the organizations in the ministry. The board is statutorily required to supervise key paramilitary establishments under the ministry namely: Nigeria security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Immigration service (NIS) and Nigeria Prisons service (NPS) etc.
However, this Board (CDIPB) which is expected to perform similar duties with the selection board for the armed forces and police service commission appears to have arrogated to itself the power of creating unnecessary dichotomy between the Polytechnic (HND) graduates and University (Degree) graduates in job placement which does not exist in the Armed Forces and the police. While a university graduate is placed on grade level 08 for a start by the CDIPB, the polytechnic counterpart is placed on grade level 07. The board also went ahead to create two separate ranking systems namely, inspectorate and superintendent cadres for HND and university graduates respectively. And to 'justify' this claim, the board has introduced and designed obnoxious ranking insignia which places holders of Higher National Diploma, National Certificate of Education, National Diploma and Senior School Certificate Examination etc. in the same category (inspectorate). And so goes the remunerations of salaries and wages for these categories of personnel under the CDIPB.
While the Board has made it possible for University graduates to rise to the highest level in the civil or public service, their polytechnic counterparts can only rise to grade level 12 as the highest limit. Consequently, this situation places Polytechnic graduates under their university counterparts, thereby creating a perceived inferiority notion even when graduates of polytechnic have proven themselves beyond doubt in their chosen fields. Another thing which makes the dichotomy unnecessary is the fact that more time needed to acquire the HND Certificate. Numerically, one spends two years to acquire National Diploma (ND), one year for Industrial training (IT) attachment, two years for Higher National Diploma (HND) and one year for National Youth Service (NYSC) thereby spending a total of six years.
More so, the polytechnic graduates sit for the same Joint Admission Matriculation Examinations to be qualified for admission into school like their University counterparts. To further reinforce this erroneous perception JAMB has in recent time reduced the cut-off marks for qualification into polytechnic lower than that of the University probably to imply the inferiority of the polytechnic to that of University. Be that as it may, both university and polytechnic education are put in place for peculiar reasons and a critical look at their existence may not in any way allow for condemnation of one for another.
Little wonder the past administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo came up with the idea of either scrapping of the polytechnic institution which later brought the idea of conversion of the Yaba College of Technology and Kaduna Polytechnic to B. Tech degree awarding institutions in order to remove this unwarranted dichotomy. Now on what basis is the Federal Ministry of Interior through CDIPB discriminating?
In the Nigeria Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police Force, State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) etc, a single ranking system of superintendent cadre is being maintained for both HND/degree holders without any discrimination. Who is right or wrong if all are working towards a common goal which is national security?
Is the CDIPB/Ministry of Interior saying that there are no HND holders in these agencies of government that could have as well warranted similar dichotomy? These agencies have produced highly intelligent officers both past and present. Or are those other services, that is Prisons service, Immigration Service, and Civil Defence Corps who are victims of this circumstance not in the same national service? What necessitated this unwarranted dichotomy/ discrimination by the CDIPB? Whose interest is the Ministry of Interior through its parastatal serving? Is the ministry being used as an instrument to kill Polytechnic education in Nigeria when same thrives in the Western World where similar institutions have been used to build their economy? Is it a crime for some groups of persons in Nigeria to acquire education through polytechnic institutions and only to come out and be humiliated at the end of it all? Or are we saying that if HND holders had the opportunity and went to the University, they wouldn't have done well? What then is the basis?
In ensuring that this issue of dichotomy is resolved once and for all, the Federal Government under former Obasanjo through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held on the 27thSeptember, 2006 approved a white paper and this decision was again re-emphasized by the same FEC on the 14th March, 2007. By this, ordinarily, it has become a policy which should have been implemented by now, what then is delaying its implementation?
On Monday, July 18, 2011, there was a publication in a national daily by the Higher National Diploma Holders Association of Nigeria (HNDHAN) calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the Head of Service to effect this white paper implementation. Like the association rightly said, "the call for the implementation of the policy is neither a quest for undue favour to HND holders at work place nor a claim of academic parity of HND certificates with other certificate(s) but to provide for them a level playing ground that would enable them showcase their capabilities and competencies. It will also afford them the opportunities to compete for vacant positions in the relevant professional cadres through competitive and performance based assessment, and if found competent and successful, would continue to progress to the peak of their career". This view will go a long way to boost their morale and eliminate acrimonies in the workplace.
The Federal Government and National Assembly, and by extension CDIPB should urgently intervene and ensure justice and fairness. Alternatively, if it is agreed that the polytechnics are producing inferior graduates, then let them be scrapped or be turned into universities. Yaba College of Technology and Kaduna Polytechnic alone will not solve these problems because HND graduates will continue to be produced by the other surviving polytechnics.
The constitution of this country allows a secondary school certificate holder to become the president of Nigeria, why should HND holder not be allowed to rise to the peak of their profession? One of the foremost paramilitary organizations in this country has its Chief Executive as an Advance Diploma Holder. Are we saying he is not performing? We have had a president in this country who happened to be grade II certificate holder and he did well. Why should we not allow the HND holders to grow?