President Bola Tinubu has said he wants to see recipients of students’ loan by September/October 2023/2024 Academic Session, the Federal Education Ministry has disclosed.
The president signed the student loan bill, which is now an act of parliament, at Aso Rock on Monday.
Dele Alake, a member of the President’s strategic team, had said the bill was signed in fulfilment of one of the electoral promises of the president.
“This is the promise made during the presidential campaign by the then candidate, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that he will bring back the student loans issue to the front burner and today, that promise he made has been kept, he has just signed that bill into law, which henceforth, will allow or enable our indigent students to access federal government loans to fund their educational pursuit or career and this is how it’s done in other developed climes all over the world”, he had said.
However, there were many areas that needed clarification about the Act, making the Education Ministry to fix a press conference for Wednesday.
Speaking at the media briefing, Andrew David Adejo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, said government could no longer foot the bill of universities.
“Whether we like it or not, the government can no longer foot the bill for universities. That is why we are doing private public partnership. The universities already have autonomy, they autonomy they are yet to have is financial autonomy, it is when the get it that they can answer that question and the government is working towards that.”
On the Act, he said, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that he wants to see recipients of the loans by September/ October of 2023/2024 academic session and that as such, an inter-ministerial committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday to fine tune the process for students to get the loan within six weeks.
“Without meaning to say what the committee set up would do, we don’t want to make something that only public school students would benefit from, for now private schools are paying tuition so you have to give somebody who is going to private school an opportunity for get and pay tuition.
“What you have been seeing is the bill that was presented and went through final reading at the House of Representatives and before Mr. President signs a bill, he looks at it and sends it to relevant ministries and then decides if it is okay and if there are modifications that are necessary. Let us wait to see the Act and you will get the Act when it is transmitted to the ministry of justice to produce into a gazette.”
He further explained that apart from tuition there are other fees and somebody looking for a loan because he or she is indigent also needs money to feed.
“You can’t give someone loan and say pay tuition without sustaining his school, No, you have to get accommodation, even if tuition fee in public universities are free you still pay for your accommodation and federal government would not give you loan that will not make sure you get in school, stay in school and graduate.”
While noting that such scheme has failed in the past, he said they want to learn from the past, saying, “We want the current act to learn from the mistake of the past where there are more defaulters than people that paid the bill, the past is like it is a government money come and take and go, free money but that is not going to be the case with this.”
He however, assured that the process would be depoliticized and that jobs would be created even though it cannot be created 100 per cent, adding that universities and polytechnics were being trained to focus on innovation and producing job creators.