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The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has promoted 3,487 senior officers to various higher ranks, in compliance with a presidential order abolishing any disparity between holders of the Higher National Diploma, HND, and those with University degrees.
A statement by the custom’s spokesperson, Joseph Attah announced that the service has removed the dichotomy between HND and Bachelor’s degree.
The development is coming five years after an exposé by ICIR on how the dichotomy had created tension in the service.
The investigation by ICIR published in 2012 revealed that while HND holders enter the Custom Service on Grade Level, GL 7, degree holders’ entry point is GL 8.
Also while polytechnic graduates can only rise to GL 14, their degree holder colleagues can rise to GL 17 and even become the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC.
However, the statement by the customs spokesman said the Director General of Customs Service, Hameed Ali had directed immediate alignment of rank structure of the service with that of the police.
Consequently, officers in the Inspectorate cadre on Salary Grade level 08 and above are to align with the appropriate rank in the Superintendent Cadre.
Ali was quoted as saying HND holders on salary Grade Level GL 07 in the service are automatically moved to GL0 8 while a supplementary budget will be made for their salary arrears.
He said “This is expected to boost the morale of officers and eliminate confusion in the seniority of officers”.
The statement by Attah said 3,487 senior officers have been promoted to various higher ranks, following presidential approval.
According to the investigations by ICIR, the biggest complaint of the polytechnic graduates is in the disparity in the schedule of duties between them and university graduates, not just salaries.
Based on the ICIR report, while degree holders were posted to executive/superintendent cadre assignments, HND holders were treated as minions and posted on assignments like guard duties.
Another discrimination of HND holders as discovered by the ICIR investigations was that HND holders on GL 7 were not allowed to wear uniforms designated for officer cadre unlike degree holders. They could only wear officers’ uniform when they get to GL 8.
The ICIR story revealed that even when HND holders tried to improve their careers by obtaining degrees after graduating from the polytechnic, the management of the Customs Service still made it impossible for them to convert to officer cadre.
Abolishing the HND-BSc dichotomy in the ranking of personnel in Nigeria’s public service has been a subject of constant demand from Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and graduates of polytechnics.
The disparity between HND and bachelor’s degree holders was not peculiar to the Customs Service but has been a public service policy that affected the civil service.