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New Law gives indigent students access to loans

The move to liberalise funding of education in the country commenced yesterday with the signing of a Students Loan Bill by President Bola Tinubu.

The law is to help indigent students have access to Federal Government’s loans for their education, especially at the tertiary level.

Tinubu’s media team led by Mr Dele Alake made this known to reporters in Abuja.

Alake, who was in company with other members of the media team, including Tunde Rahman and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz as well as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, David Adejoh, said the new law is a fulfilment of one of the electoral promises of the President.

A copy of the new law sighted by The Nation showed that an education bank would be established by the government to grant interest-free loans to interested would-be students and students.

Outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives and sponsor of the bill signed bill, Femi Gbajabiamila, parents and students lauded Tinubu for acting swiftly on the bill.

Asked by reporters if the new law would not lead to a rise or reduction in tuition, Alake said both situations were unrelated.

He said: “We are very happy to announce to you that today, just a few minutes ago, the President His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, signed into law, the Student Loans Bill and that Student Loans Bill, you all know what it entails, what it connotes the meaning.

“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 said.

“So, this is a boom to our youths, to our students nationwide. Of course, there are prescribed qualification parameters and that is the proof of indigeneship of whoever is to be a beneficiary and other prescribed parameters will be there.
“Of course, there are committees to be set up, the members of committees drawn from various bodies to superintend over the efficient and proficient disbursement of this facility.”

Asked for the time frame for the new law to take effect, Alake, who is also a member of the Presidential Strategic Team, explained that the bill takes effect immediately.

On his part,   Adejoh explained that “what the president has done goes beyond symbolism. It is a demonstration of intent in terms of how he wants to handle education as he progresses in his Presidency.

“As somebody asked about procedures, once the bill has been signed, that is the most important thing. A bill tells you what should be done, how it will be done is what we’re going to put together and the good luck is that we have experience already in this area. We already have the Federal Scholarship Board Scheme running.

“The difference this bill makes is that it’s going to be a loans board so that people that don’t have whatever reason, don’t qualify to be able to apply for a loan. I’m very sure the country has learned from the recovery rates of loans and the experience we had will be able to guide how this federal student loans board will work.

“I want to congratulate   Nigerians because what we have now is that nobody should say the money did not allow him to go to school. That opportunity will be there, it will be inclusive and it will be equitable.”

Gbajabiamila, parents, students welcome   new law  

Outgoing Speaker Gbajabiamila said the future of the country had just been guaranteed and strengthened with the new law as no Nigerian child would be denied access to tertiary education on account of lack of finance.

Gbajabiamila noted that the hardship being faced by the unemployed and low-income earners, coupled with the very high cost of living over the years had made access to quality higher education difficult.

He said: “When the actions of the President are viewed critically and without prejudice, it is reassuring that Nigerians are bound to enjoy good governance if the Legislature and the Executive will continue this symbiotic relationship that has brought massive change into governance within such a short period in the life of this administration.

“While I congratulate Nigerians on this new feat, I will equally implore our indigent youths to maximise the advantage of the new law that will enable them to chart the future they crave for themselves.”

Deputy National President National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo and Coordinator of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D Southwest, Adejuwon Olatunji, said the new law is the way forward for the nation’s education sector.

Ogunbanjo described Tinubu as a true democrat who has brought succour to parents and students.

He said:”  In our days there used to be a Students Loan Board but that is no more.  Thank God Tinubu has brought big succour for parents. Indigent students can now apply for loans.   Parents are delighted and we congratulate the President for signing the bill   It   is a good step in the right direction.”

Olatunji said the law will assist students whose parents cannot afford to pay tuition.

Quick peep into the Act   

Checks by The Nation show that a  proposed   Nigerian Education Bank shall have powers to supervise, coordinate, administer, and monitor the management of loans to students and would-be students.

The board of the bank  will receive applications  the loans through tertiary  institutions in Nigeria and  screen them before granting approvals; and

All applicants shall have an equal right to access the loans without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.

Few  things to know before applying  for the loan :

Applications must be routed through tertiary institutions, an applicant must provide at least two guarantors—a civil servant of not less than level 12 years in service and a lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience or a judicial office/justice of the peace.

Also, each guarantor must submit two passport photographs, the name of the employer and evidence of being so employed by the named organisation.

Where the guarantor is self-employed, he must provide particulars of his business as registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC) or any other appropriate authority.

Any beneficiary of the loan shall commence repayment two years after completion of the national service.

Repayment shall be by direct deduction of 10 percent of the beneficiary’s salary at source by his employer and credited to a  loan account.

 

(THE NATION)

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