ASUU, ASUP express doubts over student loan
On Monday in Abuja, President Bola Tinubu signed the Student Loan Bill into law.
Dele Alake, a member of the Presidential Strategic Team, told State House Correspondents on Monday evening that the bill signing was “fulfilment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding for education.”
The Students Loan Act is the second piece of legislation that Tinubu has signed since assuming office two weeks ago.
The bill will make interest-free loans available to needy students.
The legislation sponsored by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, passed the third reading in the House on 25 May 2023.
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According to Alake, who was joined by other members of the media team, including Tunde Rahman and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, as well as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, David Adejoh, the new law requires prospective beneficiaries to provide proof of their origins.
“We are delighted to inform you that the Student Loans Bill was signed into law by His Excellency Bola Tinubu, President of Nigeria, today.
The then-candidate for president, His Excellency Bola Tinubu, promised during the campaign that he would bring the issue of student loans back to the forefront.
“Today, the promise he made has been fulfilled. Alake stated, “He has just signed that bill into law, making it possible for our needy students to access Federal Government loans to fund their educational pursuits or careers.”
The presidential aide stated that the action was consistent with standard practise in industrialised nations and would facilitate access to education.
“This is the practise in other developed regions. Therefore, this is a boost for our nation’s youth and students.
“There are, of course, prescribed qualification criteria. And this is the proof of indigenous status for the intended recipient.
“Of course, committees must be established. “Members of committees will be selected from a variety of organisations in order to oversee the efficient and effective disbursement of this facility,” he added.
Also stated, although the bill takes effect immediately, the committees will determine the application procedures and oversee the process.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Adejoh, stated that the current scholarship board of the Federal Government will be transformed into a loan board able to offer educational credit facilities to qualified applicants.
“What the President has done today transcends mere symbolism. It is a declaration of intent regarding how he intends to handle education as his presidency progresses. After the bill has been signed, this is the most significant development. A bill specifies what actions should be taken. We are going to construct the methodology.
“Now, nobody will be able to claim that money prevented him from attending school,” he added.
In response, the Academic Staff Union of Universities characterised the loan bill as discriminatory against the children of people with low-income.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the national president of ASUU, stated in an interview with newsmen tha “The union will react soon, but everyone is aware of our stance on student loans, which is that they will burden the children of people with low-income with debt upon graduation. This practise is discriminatory. According to what I read online, it is only for children whose parents earn at least N500,000 per year. Thus, if your father earns more money, you will not benefit.”
Similarly, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Mr. Anderson Ezeibe, stated, “I have not read the bill, and we do not wish to react superficially. However, there is one area that will not be feasible.
“It states that students must return the funds two years after completing NYSC. But what is the provision for a NYSC graduate who is unemployed? And will they all find employment immediately following NYSC?”
The National Association of Nigerian Students, however, characterised the student loan bill as a “step forward” for the country’s education system.
The Cordinator, NAN, Zone D, Adejuwon Emmanuel, however, criticised the repayment terms in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday.
“Without saying much, the student loan bill is a step forward for the Nigerian educational system, as it will enable students whose parents are unable to pay tuition fees to do so with a loan.
“However, despite how beneficial this is, the government must address a few questions. The repayment deadline is unreasonable. As we all know, there is no work anywhere, and the majority of recent graduates do not find employment immediately; how will they repay? How will it work when the majority of our graduates cannot find employment?
Prof. Ini Uko, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, praised the initiative in an interview with our correspondent.
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