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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria Signs Students Loan Scheme Bill Into Law
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Tinubu’s Students Loan Now Legal, Plus All You Need To Know About the Scheme

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A bill on Students Loan Fund, aimed at providing access to loans to qualified students to pursue their higher education, has been signed into law by President Bola Tinubu.

This followed his accent to the amended Student Loan Bill on Wednesday.

Speaking after signing the bill at the Presidential Villa, the President said his administration is determined to ensure that education is given its pride of place and the attention necessary including skills development programmes.

While thanking the members of the National Assembly for their expeditious handling of the bill, President Tinubu said, “I have just signed a bill proclaiming the student loan effectively.

“First of all, I must thank members of the National Assembly for their expeditious handling of this bill considering the children of Nigeria, that education is the tool to fight against poverty effectively.

“We are determined to ensure that education is given the proper attention necessary for the country including skills development programmes.

“This is to ensure that no one, no matter how poor their background is, is excluded from quality education and opportunity to build their future.”

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The loan, which was supposed to have taken effect last year, had suffered different setbacks, especially as a result of some defects in the law establishing it.

But in March, Tinubu transmitted an amendment to the Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.

In his letter to parliament, Tinubu requested a fresh enactment to address some challenges with the earlier Act and to enhance the implementation of the scheme by his administration.

The lawmakers had given the Bill accelerated hearing by suspending relevant sections of its standing rules and referred the Bill to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.

On March 20, the senate passed the bill following consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND that considered the Bill.

Stakeholders have raised issues around the Students Loans scheme, especially as it has to do with eligibility requirements, funding sources, disbursement and repayment procedures, among others.

What the Students Loan Scheme is All About

The student loan is part of the implementation of the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023. The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law seeks to provide loans for indigent Nigerian students to pay fees in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

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Under the Students Loan Fund, interest-free loans would be given to eligible Nigerians for higher education.

The Federal Government had postponed the launch of the Scheme until identified legal concerns were addressed after the bill was earlier signed into law in June 2023.

A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, proposed the bill and it was supposed to start between September and October 2023.

Meanwhile, Tinubu said the programme would begin in January 2024, after missing the October deadline.

But in January, Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, said at a meeting that preparations for the scheme were finished. This included making the Student Loan Scheme website and planning how to start the programme.

Also, Tinubu told leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) that the programme would start once they added more features, like vocational studies.

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However, barely 48 hours before the launch, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, Akintunde Sawyer, said the loan scheme was postponed due to some corrections that were being made around the launch.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to commit to a specific date. We are sort of waiting to ensure that all the stakeholders are aligned to make sure that nobody is blindsided, then we can actually roll this out in a meaningful, comprehensive, wholesome and sustainable way,” he said.

The sources of funding for the Students Loan Scheme as dictated by the Act include; one per cent of all profits accruing to the federal government from oil and other minerals; one per cent of taxes, levies and duties accruing to the federal government from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); education bonds and education endowment fund schemes.

The Education Loan will also be funded through donations, gifts, grants, endowment and revenue accruing to the fund from any other source, according to the Act.

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Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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