FG votes N50bn for student loan

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The Federal Government had voted N50bn in the 2024 budget for the implementation of its student loan scheme.

This was contained in the details of the 2024 budget appropriation.

Meanwhile, details of how the loan scheme, unveiled by President Bola Tinubu in June, would be implemented remains sketchy.

But the President gave the assurance that the loan scheme would kick off January.

Ugamatv  reports that Tinubu, who spoke at the 29th National Economic Summit in November, insisted that the student loan scheme was a more sustainable model for funding tertiary education and increasing citizen’s access to higher education

“By January 2024, the new students loan programme must commence. To the future of our children and students, we are saying no more strikes.

“To address long-standing issues in the education sector, a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education will be implemented, including the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024.

“Human capital is the most critical resource for national development. Accordingly, the budget prioritises human development with particular attention to children, the foundation of our nation,” Tinubu had said.

Since signing the Bill into law in June, many Nigerians have criticised its introduction, describing it as a ploy for the introduction of tuition fees in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, for instance, noted that if the government was sincere in its intentions, the proposed student loan should be made a grant instead of a loan.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Andrew Adejoh, had said the student loan scheme would commence in September. This, however, did not happen. 

According to the student loan law signed by the President in June, the funds for the scheme would be  domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria and managed by an 11-person special committee chaired by the CBN governor.

According to Section 5 of the law, members of the committee  include the ministers responsible for education and finance, or the latter’s representatives, and the Auditor-General of the Federation.

Other members are the Chairman, National Universities Commission, a representative of the Forum of University Vice-Chancellors, a representative of the Forum of Polytechnic Rectors and Forum of Provosts of all Colleges of Education in the country

Also, a representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress, a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association and a representative of the Academic Staff Union of Universities are members.

On Wednesday, a high-ranking ASUU official told Journalist  that the union had not been briefed on the details of the scheme’s implementation.

The official, who spoke off the record, noted that the leadership of ASUU was against the idea of a loan and wanted grants for indigent students instead.

The Chairman of ASUU at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Gbolahan Bolarin, who spoke to our correspondent, said, “We don’t have any information. No details except the fact that the minister said it’s starting January 2024.”

Similarly, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, said, “We do not have any information. No details.”

The Director of programmes at Reform Education Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, urged the government to be more transparent in the implementation process.

“Initially it was announced that the implementation would commence by September 2023. The government remained silent until the President came out again to say that the implementation could kick-start by January 2024.

“I think it is high time for the government to be open and transparent about the implementation process. We know that a certain amount has been allocated but we need more details and information. It is not just about announcing dates, we need information about the committees put in place and all,” Oluwatoyin said.