From Fred Itua, Abuja
Agitation for upgrading of the College of Agriculture in Kabba, Kogi State, to a full fledge University of Agriculture, went persuasive Monday, with the Obaro of Kabba, Solomon Dele Owoniyi, profusely begging the authorities of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), to release the school for the upgrading.
This is as holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) in the country , vehemently called for abolition of all forms of dichotomy between them and University degree holders in public service .
The two agitations came to the fore during a public hearing session organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on bills separately sponsored to that effect by Senators Smart Adeuemi and Ayo Akinyelure.
The two bills are the one seeking for an Act to establish Federal University of Agriculture , Kabba from the present college of Agriculture which has been serving as a campus of ABU in Kabba since 1971 and the one seeking for abolition and prohibition of discrimination between University first degree and Higher National Diploma degree holders in public service.
Obaro of Kabba in making his plea for upgrade of College of Agriculture Kabba , recalled that when the bill was attended to in 2017 by the 8th Senate , authorities of Ahmadu Bello University kicked against it on the ground that the college as it is today, is a campus of the University .
” I’m happy that the Chairman of this Commitee , Senator Ahmed Baba – Kaita in his remarks said no opposition against the bill yet in the ongoing legislative process , but I want to on behalf of the entire Okun people , beg ABU to release this school and allow it to be upgraded,” he said .
He added that of all the Federal Colleges of Agriculture established across the country from 1960s to 1990s, only the Kabba one still remained a college while the others have been upgraded to Universities .
” Other Colleges of Agriculture established in Abeokuta , Akure Makurdi and Omudike are now full fledged Universities of Agriculture .
” The one in Kabba should not be left at the level of College but also upgraded to full fledged University as well captured and proposed by the bill sponsored by our Senator , Smart Adeyemi,” he said .
Adeyemi had earlier in his submission said the College of Agriculture in Kabba , was long over due for upgrade into full fledged University like the former ones in Markurdi, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi .
He also declared that in line with the diversification policy of the present government , there is need for establishment of two federal universities of Agriculture in each of the six Geo- political zones .
He said: “It is not out of place for Nigeria to have at least two federal university of agriculture in each of the geo-political zones of the federation. This will help to improve our foreign exchange earnings and provide jobs for millions of Nigerian youths.
“The college of agriculture campus of Kabba which we are asking for its upgrade to a full-fledged university, has facilities which are currently under-utilized such as the 10 big halls of residence for students (both male and female), living quarters, a dam, a standard library with e-learning facilities, not less than 20 class rooms, an auditorium with a sitting capacity of a minimum of 2000 students, about10 laboratories in different courses of anatomy, soil science, microbiology, chemistry, physics, and other courses.
” When upgraded to a full-fledged university, the by-product will be a new generation of educated farmers that will guarantee selfsufficiency in food, reduced rate of poverty, provide self employed graduates, improved cash-crops that will contribute to foreign exchange earnings of the country”.
Earlier before the University of Agriculture Kabba agitation , coalition of HND holders in Nigeria , vehemently kicked against dichotomy between them and University degree holders by throwing their weight behind the bill sponsored to that effect .
The National Coordinator of HND stakeholders , Sebastien Onyemaobi , in a 34 – page memorandum submitted to the committee said the dichotomy which started in 1955 during colonial regime must stop .
But the representative of the Head of Service , Dr Emmanuel Meribole who serves as Permanent Secretary , Service , Policies and Strategies in the office of Head of Service of the Federation , said there would be need for review of curriculum of Universities and Polytechnics before the dichotomy could be abolished .
According to him , while dichotomy at entry level into public service between University and Polytechnics graduates has been removed, that of progression of level 14 upward is still there , as a polytechnic graduate will have to acquire post graduate diploma or Masters degree before advancing further from level 14.
The Chairman of the committee in his closing remarks, said all the views and submissions made by the various stakeholders will guide the Committee in its final report .