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BREAKING: Reps’ bill finally ends disparity between BSc/HND

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…as NABTEB Act amendment bill passes second reading

A bill seeking a perpetual end to the dichotomy between the university degrees of Bachelor’s of Arts/Science, BA/BSc and the Higher National Diplomas, HNDs awarded by polytechnics have been passed into law in the House of Representatives.

Titled “A 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”, the bill was read for the third time which was the final stage of the law-making process at Tuesday plenary.

The next stage would be concurrence with the Senate before it will be transmitted to the Presidency for the presidential assent.

The bill stipulates some punitive measures against any form of discrimination against holders of HND.

The Implication of the piece of legislation is that the two certificates are now at par with each other.

The deputy majority leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason moved for the third reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Rep. Aishatu Dukku.

The Bill was later voted on and approved for the third reading.

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Detailing the equality of Degrees and HNDs, the bill stipulates that “Notwithstanding any provision in any legislation, circular, regulation or policy guideline, First Degree and Higher National Diploma shall be deemed construed and treated as equivalent qualification for the purpose of employment and career progression at workplace in the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“Any provision in-laws, enactments, instruments, circulars, scheme of service, directives, or policies by whatever name called, which is inconsistent with the provisions of this bill, shall to the extent of the inconsistency be null and void, and of no effect.

“Holders of the First Degree and the Higher National Diploma (HND) shall be given equal treatment and opportunity in career placements, career progression, admission to further studies and privileges whatsoever in consideration of status as graduates of Nigeria tertiary institutions of higher learning.”

The bill also prohibited discrimination between the Degree and HND.

“All forms of discriminations and or dichotomy between First Degree and Higher National Diplomas for the purpose of employment, transfer of service, conversion of cadre, career progression, promotion, and other related issues in the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy is hereby abolished.

“No person, authority, entity (body or corporate) in whatsoever name call shall discriminate and or undertake any action in any form whatsoever which is misconstrued as and or intended to give any preferential treatment in favour of and/or against holders of the First Degree or the Higher National Diploma.

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“Any person or entity in the public or private sectors of the Nigerian economy who contravenes the provisions of this bill commits an offence under this bill and shall be liable upon conviction to a term of two years’ imprisonment or a fine of N1,000,000 or both.

“Any person or entity in the public or private sectors of the Nigerian economy who design, prescribe and or specify any guidelines, terms or conditions of employment, career progression, and or any other instrument by whatever name called in violation of the provisions of this bill shall be guilty of an offence under this bill and liable upon conviction to a term of 1-year imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) or both”, it states.

Prescribing appropriate sanctions, the bill states that any person who induces or encourages any other person for the violation of any of the provisions of this bill shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of N500,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.

It further states that where an officer of any entity in the public or private sector fails to comply with the provisions of its provisions, the person shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to an imprisonment term of six months or a fine of N500,000 or both.

“Where in any proceedings against any person for an offence under this bill, it is established that any action constituting an offence under this bill has been committed by an officer, it shall be presumed that the action was done with the motive or intent of committing an offence under this bill as the case may be until the contrary is proved,” it added.

In a related development, the House also passed for second reading, a bill seeking the amendment of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board Act.

Titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Business and Technical Examinations Board Act, Cap. N12, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Improve the Scope of the Board, to Undertake Contemporary Business and Technical Examinations in Line with the National Policy on Education, Provide the General Purpose of the Results, Certificate and Awards Issued by the Board; and for Related Matters”, the bill is sponsored by Professor Julius Ihonvbere from Edo State.

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At the plenary, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere moved for the second reading of the Bill and it was seconded by Rep. Aishatu Dukku.

Leading the debate on the general principle of the bill, Hon. Ihonvbere stated that the Bill seeks to amend the Act establishing the board to end the rejection of qualified students by employers.

He added that the Bill also seeks to ensure the development of technical and vocational education schemes in Nigeria.

Contributing to the debate, Hon. Abubakar Yunusa lauded the spirit of the Bill as it seeks to correct the victimization of vocational students.

He urged the House to speedily pass the bill to make their certificates duly recognized, adding that it will cease the burden of unemployment, as well as enhance entrepreneurship.

Similarly, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas also hailed the bill, calling for the more national will to apply the skills of technical and vocational training in society.

The lawmaker also urged the expedient passage of the Bill to save the future of teeming Nigerian youth.

The Bill was eventually voted on, approved for second reading and referred to the House Committee on Basic Education and Services for further legislative action.

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Education

ASUU hints of fresh strike from Wednesday

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday gave the Federal Government a fresh deadline of 48 hours over its demand to honour the agreement with the union or face a fresh industrial action.

President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this in a telephone interview with Daily Trust.

The labour leader said after the expiration of a three-week ultimatum to the FG on Sunday, the union had commenced mobilization of its members and would conclude its consultation with various branches across the federation by Wednesday and subsequently make its position known.

ASUU on November 15 gave the FG a three-week ultimatum over the latter’s failure to meet the union’s demands.

ASUU had threatened to embark on another strike after the FG failed to implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union leading to the suspension last year’s strike.

Prof. Osodeke said despite meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on October 14, 2021, on the issues including funding for public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution, promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system payment, none of the demands had been met.

Recall that the Federal Government had promised to pay N30bn as revitalisation fund to universities as well as pay N22.1bn earned allowances to university workers.

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Kwara varsity dismisses lecturer over sexual harassment

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Kwara State University (KWASU) on Monday announced the dismissal of a member of its academic staff, Pelumi Adewale, for alleged sexual harassment of one Tosin Adegunsoye, a student of the school.

KWASU Vice-Chancellor, Mustapha Akanbi, made the made the announcement in Ilorin while addressing a news conference to herald the eighth and ninth convocation ceremonies of the institution.

Akanbi said that Adewale had ceased to be a lecturer of the school for bringing the institution into disrepute.

“The security agency has taken up the case and it is in court already, but I am informing you officially that the man is now an ex-staff member of the institution. He is a disgrace to our great institution and we won’t condone such acts,” the VC said.

Adewale was on September 11 arraigned before a magistrate court sitting in Ilorin, over an accusation of sexual harassment.

The suspect was arrested by the State Intelligence Bureau over offences bordering on criminal intimidation, sexual harassment and examination malpractices.

According to the First Information Report, a petition dated October 15 by Adegunsoye alleged that in September, Adewale, a lecturer assigned to teach her a course, MLS 212 Cell and Molecular Biology, called her and threatened to fail her in her forthcoming examination if she refused to have sexual intercourse with him.

The police reportedly instructed Adegunsoye to play along with the lecturer in order to obtain incontrovertible evidence.

The lecturer, thereafter, was said to have lured the student into his bedroom apartment around 8.30pm at Taoheed Road, Basin Area, Ilorin, where he gave her a new question paper and KWASU answer script to rewrite her examination with a promise to have sexual intercourse with her till daybreak.

The suspect was however apprehended in the process by the detectives who were hiding at a secured location to monitor the development.

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JAMB’ll clear backlog of illegal admissions — Oloyede

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Prof Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB Registrar

•Bars CBT centres from operations

REGISTRAR of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has said the board would soon clear the backlog of illegal admissions conducted by tertiary education institutions in the country.

Recall that JAMB had recently uncovered 706,189 illegal admissions by universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and other related institutions.

Speaking after receiving the Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria, ECAN’s, Award of Excellence weekend in Abuja, Oloyede said the move was to rescue students who had the requisite qualifications but were admitted illegally.

” (On) the issue of illegal admission that we want to put a halt to, we want to clear the backlog and ensure that those who have been improperly admitted but have the minimum qualification are rescued.

“We want to continue the campaign to discourage those who are committing such illegal action to stop doing such,” Oloyede said.

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The JAMB boss expressed deep appreciation to ECAN for considering him worthy of the award, saying “we appreciate the gesture and I want to assure you that we have not done this in vain.

”The objective of presenting this award will be attained. The purpose is to be able to encourage us to do more of what we have been assigned by the Federal Government. I assure you, we will deliver on the mandate.”

On the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, Oloyede said the Board had decided to adopt a cashless system in the registration process, adding that JAMB would also prohibit Computer Based Test, CBT, centres from selling e-PINs to guard against extortion of candidates.

“On our campaign on cashless CBT centres, particularly during our registration exercise, it is known that many CBT centres, despite supervision, still manage to exploit candidates.

“We want to put a stop to that, we have intensified monitoring but part of what we are doing is to ensure we protect the students against this extortion, and that is why we are asking all those (the candidates pay through us) and we will pay the centres (their service charge).

”With this, anybody who collects money from the centre would have been seen to have done a wrong thing because you are not supposed to collect any money….

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“We are also going to ensure that ePIN is not something that they will be selling at the, CBT, centres. We will ensure that anybody who wants to sell ePIN will not be a CBT centre. Once you are a CBT centre, you have lost the right to sell ePIN, so we can hold the ePIN sellers responsible for what they do. Once you are a CBT centre, you cannot also say you want to sell ePIN.”

Commending the media for its role as a representative of the people and in promotion of good governance, Oloyede called for support in the various campaigns embarked upon by the Board to ensure a better admission system.

“We appeal for support (on the issue) of fake certificates. Issuance and usage of fake certificates to secure admission into our institutions, particularly among the A level candidates.

“We are working very hard to tighten the noose and make it impossible for those who engage in such an illicit action to succeed.

“The next issue is the campaign we have just introduced; Physical and Health Education and Computer Studies as UTME subjects. We are asking and sensitizing the public, particularly the students who are to take the exam, that these are two Science subjects that will be added to their choice to widen opportunities for candidates to be able to access tertiary education, ” he said.

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