The Senate was Thursday forced to step down discussions and consideration of a Bill over the qualification of the person who should man the Federal Roads Authority, FRA. This follows sharp argument for and against holders of university degree and Higher National Diploma, HND, obtained from the polytechnics.
The Bill was stepped down till next week to enable Kabiru Gaya’s Committee on Works address some grey areas in the document.
The heated debate came up during the consideration of the report of the Committee on Works, led by Gaya (APC, Kano). The Bill sets out to repeal the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency Act 2017 and to Re-enact Federal Roads Authority Bill (FRA) 2017 and other Matters Connected Therewith.
The Bill recommends Bachelor’s of Science (B.Sc) degree or Higher National Diploma( HND) certificate as equivalent with COREN membership as compulsory qualification for headship of the proposed agency.
This prerequisite did not go down well with Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central), who was visibly angry at what he considered an attempt to equate university degree with polytechnic education. Ordia, who is a trained engineer, said B.Sc holders were engineers, while HND certificate holders were technologists and should not be placed at par with each other.
Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), quickly fired back, arguing that the Bill was discriminatory against the community of polytechnic graduates to which he belongs. He also implored the Senate not to entertain the Bill any further and asked that it be thrown out immediately. Marafa decried the situation where the position for the Director of the Board should be for a university degree holder.
“This is not in line with our tradition in passing Bills. We have graduates for both HND and university.
“The issue of HND and university dichotomy had always generated heated issues, which have held back the progress of this nation. It has been lingering.
“HND is equivalent to a degree. This matter is not in line with our constitution which says that any law passed that is not in tandem with our constitution is null and void. We must not be shut down.”
Following the disagreement among Senators, the Senate deferred the bill till next week for further legislative action.