There seems to be disaffection among operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) over alleged discrimination of personnel based on the BSC/HND dichotomy which should have been abolished.
A source within the organisation told Daily Trust that the operatives are unhappy with the development, as it has dampened morale among officials of the corps who have been affected by the discriminatory policy.
The Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB) had at the end of its meeting held on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Interior, Rtd Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, approved the regularisation of the dichotomy between holders of university degrees and Higher National Diploma (HND) in all the services.
To this end, the board directed that all officers with HND should be upgraded to COMPASS 08, which is the salary Grade Level for holders of degree certificates at entry point. While the nomenclature for the HND holders will start with the rank of Senior Inspector, the degree holders are with the rank of Assistant Superintendent II.
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Six years after this instruction, a group known as concerned NSCDC officers is appealing to the Commandant General, Ahmed Audi, to redress the situation where the corps is yet to equate the rank of HND holders at par with their colleagues who hold university degrees, especially among the 2012 intake personnel.
The group revealed that personnel of the corps recruited in 2012 with HND qualifications have not had their ranks equated with other personnel recruited the same year with a degree qualification, and “despite that the federal government has abolished the dichotomy, they (degree holders) are already in the rank of Superintendent of Corps while HND holders are still in the rank of ASC 11 till date.”
The leader of the group who prefers anonymity for fear of being victimised said: “HND holders were recruited into the NSCDC in the year 2012 as Inspector of Corps rank (Grade Level 07). The same year, on the same process, NCE holders were placed on GL 07 and degree holders on GL 08.
“This was based on the conditions of service at that time, which was a bad indicator of suppressing some set of people instead of encouraging competency and proactiveness between HND holders and degree, as it is found in other sister agencies for effective service delivery because of how sensitive security responsibility is.
“We wrote the Confirmation and Promotion examination in the year 2014, with our degree counterparts, being the statutory year to be confirmed, according to public service rules.
“The degree holders were advanced, but in our case, we were neither properly placed nor promoted after passing the COMPRO exam, contrary to extant regulations.”
The group said in 2016, there was another replacement/recruitment exercise, and all officers recruited then as Assistant Superintendents of Corps II (ASCII) were all given automatic promotions to the next rank while all HND holders recruited in 2012 were still stagnated as Inspectors of Corps (Grade level 7).
But in 2018, the federal government enforced the removal of the HND/BSC dichotomy, and this order was implemented in other sister para-military agencies under the Ministry of Interior since 2016.
The group said the action of the federal government triggered hope for the HND 2012 intakes to progress to ASC II (Level 8) in 2018
“Majority of our degree holders, counterparts, that we were recruited together in the year 2012, are now hanging the rank of Superintendent (Eagle, i.e., GL 11), while up to 95 per cent of us, HND holders of 2012 recruits, are painfully stagnated to one star (ASC II, GL 08) up till now; 2023.
“After being denied promotion exams for many years, 2022 made it the 4th consecutive year that we have been writing and passing promotion examinations, yet, without promotion,” it said.
The group said all other categories of personnel, including SSCE, NCE and Trade Test holders have been writing promotion exams, at the due times, except the holders of the HND 2012 intakes who have been variously denied for several years.
The leader of the group said some junior officers who were recruited in 2012 with CA III, GL 03 (the least rank) who later got themselves enrolled in part-time degree programmes were not only converted to the senior rank but also got promoted to two-star (ASCI, GL 09), “thereby placing them above us that were recruited initially with HND certificates in 2012”.
Daily Trust findings revealed that having removed the dichotomy, the NSCDC started upgrading both holders of degree and HND of 2019 intakes together.
Those who got recruited and trained in 2022 were decorated with one star. This means they will be hanging two stars as soon as their COMPRO results are considered, just like their colleagues in the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS).
The leader of the group said the development places them in an uncomfortable and unacceptable position of having to be juniors to two batches of recruits after them (i.e. 2016 and 2019 intakes).
“Our career stagnancy after 11 years of enlistment into the active service of NSCDC is unfair and unjust. There is no gainsaying this is alien to the public service rule which stipulates that officers in our cadre should have a maximum of three years before they get promoted to the next rank. We shouldn’t be made to write another promotion exam this year again as we have been grossly shortchanged in the years back.”
The group called on President Bola Tinubu and the Senate president, Godwill Akpabio, to look into their matter and restore them to the right rank which reflects their years of service, just like the 2012-degree holders and HND holders in other sister agencies.
The National Council on Establishment (NCE) in 2016 resolved that bachelor degree and Higher National Diploma (HND) holders should both enter the civil service on Grade Level 08, but some federal ministries, departments and agencies have refused to implement the resolution except the paramilitary, who have upgraded their personnel, both at entry level and status promotions.
The NCE is a forum where the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Heads of Service of the 36 states of the Federation and Permanent Secretaries (Establishment) in both the federal and state civil service meet annually to deliberate on matters affecting the civil service, especially the scheme and conditions of service.
Daily Trust finding reveals that most of the paramilitary services seem to have implemented the Minna resolution, with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) being the leading agency to comply with it.
The former Comptroller General of the service, Hameed Ali, in April 2017 approved the removal of the dichotomy in the service.
Kano State is, however, leading among the sub-nationals, as in May 2019, it officially abolished the dichotomy between the HND and BSc holders in the state.
Former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had declared, during the Workers Day celebration at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, that the decision was part of his administration’s effort to boost the morale of civil servants in the state.
The National Assembly had, after attempts in June 2021, passed a bill to end the disparity; which was later transmitted to the president for assent. The bill, among other things, aimed to resolve the wage disparity and discrimination against HND holders in the public and private sectors.
It also sought to promote Nigeria’s technological advancement by encouraging many qualified candidates to pursue polytechnic and technological studies.
But the bill was not on the priority list of the former president.
One of the sponsors of the bill, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central), said the discrimination against HND holders is a threat to the nation’s core policy of evolving technological and scientifically-based society.
Reacting to the allegation, the spokesman of the NSCDC, Commandant Olusola Odumosu, said the claim of favouritism in the promotion exercise of one set of personnel over another was not true.
He said members of the 2012 set with HND wrote promotion examinations just like their colleagues and those who succeeded, coupled with the available vacancies were being promoted.
“The leadership of Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi inherited a lot of promotion backlog which he has been dealing with since he was appointed in 2021.
“The 2012 set did not commit any offence to warrant any maltreatment by management and neither has there been any special treatment for anyone.
“They have been sitting for promotion examinations just as their other colleagues and promotion is given based on performance in the examination and availability of vacancies.
“However, the recent complaints have got to the ears of the CG and he has directed management to look into it with a view to addressing the matter once and for all”, Commandant Odumosu said.