The federal government is making efforts to ensure that the newly passed students loan act is fully implemented in Nigeria by September, 2023, Jevinik has learned.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr David Adejo revealed this Tuesday, in Abuja.
Mr Adejo was speaking at a public hearing by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on student loans when he made the statement.
According to him, modalities had been put in place for the take-off of the student loans scheme in the 2023/2024 academic calendar.
The Permanent Secretary also stated that the signing of the Students’ loan act was not responsible for some of the hike in university charges across the country, adding that no federal university is allowed to charge tuition fees in the country.
In a bid to exonerate the federal government, FG, Mr Adejo said, “what they collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the Universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.
“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the student loans act is the University of Lagos.
“They came to the Ministry with a proposal to increase their charges because all Governing Councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.
“Immediately that was done, there was a resolution from the House stopping the increase in fees and the President also gave a directive stopping any increase in fees and that is where it is, even though several others have brought their proposal,” he said, adding that “despite the charges, the universities had not been able to meet up with some of their expenses.”
On his part, chairman of the HoRs Ad-hoc committee on Students Loan, Teseer Ugbor said the student loan was part of the palliatives by the federal government to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and to ensure access to higher education by interested Nigerians.
The chairman, while expressing concern over the disbursement process, said modalities to recover the funds from beneficiaries as well as the possibility of some students not being able to access the loan was another concern to look out for.
He called for dialogue in the process of trying to amend the law to ensure that all Nigerian students interested in the loan benefitted from it.
The students loan act which was introduced by a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, passed second reading at the lower house on May 23, 2023 and was assented to by President Tinubu on Monday, June 12, 2023.
The student loan act is aimed at boosting the Nigerian education sector by providing interest-free loans to students, government officials have said.
It was learnt that the scheme will, provide interest-free loan for indigent students in which beneficiaries will only pay back the exact amount they collect.
The scheme will also offer loans for poor students seeking higher education in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country as well as enable all indigent students to have equal rights to access the loan without any form of discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.
However, the loan will be accessible to only indigent students studying within Nigeria and is solely meant for the payment of tuition fees.
The Act states that a Nigerian Education Bank will also be created with the aim to offer education for all Nigerians in matters pertaining to loans.