Nigeria: Doubt Trails January Student Loan Takeoff

As January is drawing to an end, students have decried the prolonged wait for the commencement of the education loans.

Their umbrella body, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) lamented that the loan portal had not yet been opened for students to apply as of the time of filing this report.

It also expressed worry at the recent hikes in tuition by some higher institutions amid the delay in the loan implementation and called for the disbursement of the loans before month-end.

But the federal government has said January is a reality for the commencement of the student loan scheme with plans of timely students’ access to the credit facility within 30 days.

However, speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP Friday on behalf of the students, the coordinator of NANS Zone C, Comrade Anzaku Shedrack, urged President Bola Tinubu to fast-track the implementation of the student loan before the end of January.

He also emphasised the need to include NANS as one of the committees that will supervise the disbursement of student loans

Anzaku said, “As we speak, up until now, we don’t even know anything about the student loan bill. All we know is that there is a student loan bill that is supposed to commence in January.

“We have not been given access or any other information since the pronouncement of that deadline.

“We don’t know when it will commence; we don’t know how it will commence and some of the modus operandi that will be used to benefit Nigerian students.

“All we know is that school fees keep increasing and till now there is no way forward. The student loan bill is sacrosanct because the Nigerian students really need it and most schools are resuming this January.

“If NANS can be inducted as one of the committees that will supervise the disbursement of student loans, it will help because we have our structures down to the grassroots and we have representatives at each state and each school.

“So, this is 17th January and nothing has been said regarding the student loan scheme and we are not happy,” he said.

The student leader urged President Tinubu to live up to the promise of his government and ensure the loan gets disbursed before the month runs out.

While appreciating the president for the new increment approved for the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for the development of schools, he said the campus monitoring committee of NANS will take out time to investigate and ensure the judicious use of the money.

He further asked Tinubu to fulfil his promise of giving buses to all student bodies.

We are on course – FG

Meanwhile, the federal government has insisted that January is a reality for the commencement of the student loan scheme.

Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, disclosed this to State House correspondents on yesterday after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Sununu also disclosed all is now set for the scheme to begin with the completion of the Student Loan Scheme website and conclusion on technical plans that would facilitate the kickoff of the scheme.

The minister also stated that funds had been made available for the Student Loan Scheme in the nation’s 2024 budget and the Supplementary budget for 2023.

“January is a reality for the commencement of the student loan scheme in Nigeria; already the website is almost done. Application for beneficiaries will be online, criteria for students to get admission is that you must be a Nigerian and find yourself in a public school, and application is also online which will be processed timely and you can access your loan within 30 days.

“Funds have been set aside in the 2024 appropriation act, and also in the supplementary budget for 2023,” the minister added.

LEADERSHIP Friday reports that President Bola Tinubu had in June 2023 signed into law a bill to establish a Students Loan Fund (SLF) to provide interest-free loans to Nigerians seeking higher education.

The bill, sponsored by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila was initially planned to begin between September and October 2023.

Failing to meet the October deadline last year, President Tinubu announced that the federal government would commence the disbursement of student loans to Nigerians by January 2024.

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