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HND graduates to sue ARCON, others over discrimination

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Sequel to non-resolution of some critical issues affecting their profession, Higher National Diploma (HND) graduates of architecture are to sue Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) for alleged discriminatory policies.

Others to be joined in the new suit include Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and other relevant authorities in Nigeria.

The decision to drag ARCON to a fresh legal tussle was contained in a pre-action letter by their counsel, Yinka Agboola to the Executive Secretary National Board for Technical Education and copied to President Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP).

The letter dated June 15, 2020 and obtained by The Guardian, was entitled, ‘Unlawful Stoppage of Architecture Courses in Nigeria Polytechnics, Post Graduate Diploma for HND Graduates and the Nigerian Institute of Architects finals 1 and 11 and the Professional Practice Examination by ARCON’.

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The aggrieved representatives of the HND graduates of architecture from polytechnics in Nigeria, namely, Sikirulai Adebayo Ibiyeye, Mr. Okeagu Uche  Kelechukwu, Mr. Abdulrasaq Akanni Usman, Mr, Iwunze Paschal Ezechi, Mr. Rabiu Adamu Abubakar Manga, Mr. Omotoso Olubunmi David, in the letter claimed that ARCON has not addressed their alleged discrimination and non-registration of their members despite withdrawing their previous suit.

According to him, despite the fact that the course of architecture is statutorily recognized, accredited and taught by several federal and state polytechnics in Nigeria, graduates of architects from polytechnics in Nigeria are being discriminated against.

They also alleged that ARCON has recently cancelled the study of architecture in all polytechnics in Nigeria without due consultation or consideration of the undergraduate students of architecture in polytechnic as well as HND graduates of architecture who were awaiting registration by ARCON.

The affected HND graduates include those who have passed the requisite NIA Finals 1, 11 and Professional Practice Examination (PPE).

They include graduates of  HND in architectural technology, who have registered for NIA Final 1 Examinations. They have also passed the designed projects and attended all the seminar modules and tests but their examination were unlawfully suspended, graduates of HND architectural technology, who registered for NIA Finals 11 and have passed the designed projects.

Those affected include graduates of HND in architectural technology, who have fulfilled the statutory requirements as stipulated under the ARCON Act and ought to be registered upon passing NIA Finals 1,  Finals 11 and Professional Practice Examination/Competence  Examination conducted by NIA.

They therefore demanded that all polytechnic graduates of architecture be allowed to progress through the pathway designed by Nigerian Universities  Commission through the attainment of post graduate diploma, masters of architecture, passing of the requisite professional competence examinations and subsequently full registration as architects by ARCON to clear the evident backlog.

They also want a provable pathway to be created by ARCON for all HND graduates who desired to progress in their career rather than putting a barricade against them.

They further decried ARCON’s decision that all HND graduates should go back to 200/300 levels in the University.

ARCON has through a letter dated August 28, 2019,  acceded to a request for a dialogue with the concerned HND holders, who had taken the council to court in Suit NO. FHC/AK/CS/71/18 for amicable resolution of the matter.

The Council had urged the plaintiffs to withdraw the suit from the Federal High Court, Akure, where the case currently resides.

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The dialogue later came out with appreciative progress with issues like allowing HND graduates, who wrote NIA Finals 1&2 up to 2017 to write APCE. Others were that HND,PGD and Masters will be allowed to write ARP, while others with HND, NIA Finals 1, PGD, and Masters would be allowed to write APCE.

But some issues were left unaddressed, such as the non-inclusion of those who are about to write NIA Finals 1 and II after doing and submitting projects;  the successful PPE applicants who are yet to be issued their seals and the progressive path for HND.

Others were the decision to terminate HND, PGD, masters by 2020  and cancellation of NIA final 1 and II without clearing the backlog.

But ARCON president, Oladipupo Gabriel Ajayi,  said that  HND holders in Architecture were excluded from registration by ARCON because people believe they do not have sufficient educational qualifications to be licensed as architects in Nigeria.

He said ARCON has held a lot of meetings with HND graduates through their associations and have been able to convince some of them, hence, they withdrew their cases from the court.

“With this development, agitation hitherto coming from that end has subsided greatly. Today, I am sure that, those with HND know the route to go.

“It is either you had done Finals 1, Finals II, then enlist for Architects Regularisation Programme (ARP) and after, enlist for Architects Competency Programme (ACP) or with your HND, you go to the university to get your B.Sc in architecture and then, you enlist for your Master’s degree,” he added.

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