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FOCUS: One year after, NSCDC ignores directive on HND, BSc dichotomy

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THERE is a growing disquiet among officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) over the failure of the authorities of the Corps to implement the directive by the Federal Ministry of Interior to all para-military outfits under its supervision to remove the dichotomy between HND and BSc holders in their services, ICIR can authoritatively report.

Abubakar Magaji, then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, on July 13 2017 issued a statement announcing the removal of the dichotomy between holders of university degrees and Higher National Diploma (HND) in all the services.

According to the statement, Magaji said “the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB), at the end of its meeting held on Tuesday, July 11 2017, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. (Rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, approved the regularization 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 to 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.”

Also, in March 2018, Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation issued a circular directing all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to remove the dichotomy between HND and BSc holders.

The circular dated March 26, 2018, conveyed the decision of the National Council on Establishment (NCE) to all concerned and solicited their support through its implementation.

According to the circular, NCE approved entry point of Service Grade Level (SGL) 08 for Higher National Diploma (HND) holders in the civil service. It also encouraged serving HND officers to fulfill all specified conditions as contained in the scheme of service and extant rules for career progression beyond SGL 14.

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DISQUIET WITHIN THE CORPS

Investigations by the ICIR however revealed that, while other para-military agencies under the Ministry have since complied with the directive, NSCDC is yet to follow suit.

The affected officers of the Corps who spoke to the ICIR said the non-compliance with the directive is already breeding infighting and indiscipline among officers of different cadres.

An officer of NSCDC who is an HND graduate and a victim of discrimination within the corps said nothing has been implemented about the directive since July last year when the directive was issued.

“When the news broke last year that the dichotomy should be removed, we were happy,” said the officer with the rank of an Inspector who pleaded not to be named because he can be sanctioned for speaking on such matter.

But their joy has faded after waiting for a year and they are still wearing their old ranks and receiving their old salaries.

Since July 2017 when the directive was issued, the ICIR gathered that the management of NSCDC is yet to come up with any official statement on whether or not those affected would be elevated.

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“There was a verification exercise by officials of the Ministry of Interior sometime in February for those of us that were affected but up till now, nothing has been heard about the outcome of the verification exercise,” he told the ICIR.

“Ever since, what we heard is that ‘so and so list is on the table of the CG’, we even got information that the list has been infiltrated by unknown people. We are hearing different information about it and it is not really building our morale as it were.”

Another officer of the Corps in one of the  state commands in the northern Nigeria, who is also an HND graduate from one of the Polytechnics in the South West region of Nigeria confirmed to the ICIR that the directive is yet to be implemented by authorities of NSCDC.

While also pleading not to be mentioned in this report because he was not authorized to talk to press, he narrated how he contemplated quitting the job in 2015, five years after his enlistment into the Civil Defence Corps, because of the discriminatioin in the system.

“In 2015, I was on the verge of leaving the job because whatever kind of job you are doing that if after three to five years you are not deriving satisfaction by way of a promotion, it is something that naturally will kill your morale,” said the officer.

His first promotion did not come until after eight years in the service, though he nevertheless considers himself “one of those few lucky ones” to have enjoyed what has become a rare privilege.

“There are many others who have not enjoyed that privilege,” he said, “and you expect them to be productive.”

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The discrimination and lack of promotion, he claimed has resulted to glaring indiscipline within the corps.

While also blaming the Federal Government for allowing polytechnic graduates to be treated as ‘second class citizens’, he said “I’m a Poly pride; I would not sit down and allow you to look at me as a second class citizen. The government has made us look like second class citizens.”

Speaking on what he called a cold war going on within the Civil Defence, particularly between HND and BSc holders, he said the discrimination is the real reason there is disharmony in the corps.

“You just discovered that your friend, with whom you came into the service on the same day, is a level ahead of you.  This is one of the things that cause infighting or disharmony and cold war.”

“But the fact is that, the man who has HND can still do what a BSc holder is doing in the Corps. Some of the work we do here, the guys who are HND holders are the ones who do the bulk of it.”

“For instance, I came to the Corps and for no just reason, we wrote a promotion exam. together and by way of examination, one should expect that given what one has written, he should be eligible for promotion, only for the list of promoted officers to come and you didn’t get to find your name there whereas some of those who you wrote the exam together are not good at all and you begin to question how they came about the result,” he said.

“They said the National Assembly has to rubber stamp it. That is why it has not taken effect.”

OTHER PARA-MILITARY AGENCIES HAVE COMPLIED

When the ICIR contacted Mohammed Manga, Director of Press at the Federal Ministry of Information on why the directive on the abolition of the dichotomy was not upheld by the management of NSCDC, he said he was new in the position and could not comment on it.

“I’m new here and just studying all the files on my table. So I can’t comment on what you asked me,” he said.

But a top official of the Ministry who did not want to be named confirmed to the ICIR that all other para-military agencies under the Ministry have implemented the removal of the HND and BSc dichotomy.

“The issue of HND and BSc has been resolved but it remains implementation,” he said.

He also revealed that the Nigerian Prison Services, Immigration and Fire Service have since carried out the directive.

Giving reasons on why the directive might not have been implemented by the Civil Defence Corps, he said since those who would be elevated need to be placed on new salary scale, it involves budgetary allocation which according to him might not have been provided for in the current budget.

The directive means harmonisation in promotions, salaries and other allowances of graduates of HND and university degree holders.

An Immigration officer who is an HND graduate attached to headquarters of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Abuja said the directive has been implemented by NIS management since last year.

“They have removed the dichotomy since last year, we have been promoted and now we are enjoying all the privileges attached to our new ranks,” he said.

However, Emmanuel Okeh, Public‎ Relations Officer of NSCDC debunked the allegation that the Corps has not complied with the directive of the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB).

According to an interview he granted THIS DAY newspaper, Okeh maintained that all the names of the personnel of the Corps who are genuinely affected have been submitted to the CDFIPB for onward review, adding that NSCDC complied with the directive of the Board the moment the Corps received a circular from it.

Okeh challenged any officer of the NSCDC who claimed to be genuinely affected to produce his/her letter of employment for the world to see, with the claim that each personnel in the corps took his/her destiny in his/her hands.

He said: “This question is to be directed to the Board because all names of those genuinely affected have been submitted for onward review. The Board send circulars to all the organisations and we have since complied.

“Many of them come looking for jobs and even when you tell them that there’s no vacancy for graduates, they will tell you that they don’t mind the level given them as long as they will get a job.

“So if you were a graduate and you were employed with a school certificate, you can’t come back and claim that you are a graduate or have a master’s degree and you are answerable to a degree holder. Tell them to come with their letters of employment because this was clearly stated in the letters.

“Those genuinely affected are those who came into the service as graduates with HND certificates. T‎hey are the only ones that will be considered except if there’s a policy to carry the others along, but for now, there’s no such thing.”

Okey’s response was however discounted by one of the aggrieved officers who argued that none of those affected has been given either a new rank or salary as directed by the circular.

“He is only doing his work as a PRO; nothing has changed. If he says they have complied, why have those affected not been hanging their new ranks? Why have they not been paid new salary?”

“There is no official statement to that effect and they have given no reasons for the delay. Those people who the Federal Government said should be attended to are still there.”

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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