Nigerian students in higher institutions of learning under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Students NANs have rejected and kicked against the student loan Bill passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate sponsored by Speaker of the House Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.
The student loan Bill according to a statement issued by the Media Adviser to the Speaker Lanre Lasisi was aimed at helping students gain more access to financial assistance and both chambers of the National Assembly passed the Students Loan Bill sponsored by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila in the 9th Assembly.
The draft legislation has as its short title, the ‘Students Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2019,’ While its long title is ‘A Bill for an Act to provide for easy access to higher education for Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Bank established in this Act to provide education for all Nigerians and other purposes connected thereto.’
The House had passed the bill earlier this year and forwarded it to the Senate for concurrence. The Red Chamber passed the Bill yesterday, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
With the Senate’s concurrence on the Bill, a clean copy will be produced and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. Once it is signed into law, Nigerian students could begin accessing the loans.
The Bill seeks the establishment of the Nigerian Education Bank, which shall have powers to supervise, coordinate, administer, and monitor the management of student loans in Nigeria and receive applications for students loan through higher institutions in Nigeria on behalf of the applicants, screen the applications to ensure that all requirements for the grant of students’ loan under the Act are satisfied.
The bank shall also have the powers to approve and disburse the loan to qualified applicants; control and monitor and coordinate the students’ loan account/fund and ensure compliance in respect of disbursement; monitor academic records of grantees of the loan to obtain information on their year of graduation, national service, employment to ensure that grantees of the loan commence repayment of the loan as at when due, among other functions.
The Bill provides that notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in other enactments, all students seeking higher education in any public institution of higher learning in Nigeria shall have an equal right to access the loan under this Act without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.
“The loan referred to in this Act shall be granted to students only for the payment of Tuition fees. The grant of the loan to any student under this Act shall be subject to the students/applicant(s) satisfying the requirements and conditions set out under this Act.”
Gbajabiamila had argued in the Bill that the hardship being faced by the unemployed and low-income earners coupled with the very high cost of living in Nigeria over the years has made access to quality higher education difficult, stressful and in some cases impossible.
He also noted that a well-educated citizenry is critical to our National development and our Nation’s ability to compete in the Global Economy, arguing that higher education should be regarded as a public good benefiting the entire country rather than a commodity solely benefiting the individual recipients.
“In tandem with the Federal government’s interest and quest in ensuring access to higher education, the National Assembly has agreed to prescribe a legislation that will guarantee access to quality higher education by qualified Nigerians,” he said during the debate on the legislation
However, in a presentation at the National Summit on Education organised by the office of the Speaker on Reimaging Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Issues Challenges and Solutions, the National. President of the student body Mr. Usman Balumbu said that the association is not in support of any bill to mortgage the future of students of higher educational institutions.
He said also that the over 40.1 million students in Nigeria’s tertiary educational institutions would be mobilized against the educational authorities in Nigeria educational institutions if they attempted to raise the fees payable by students
He added that the protest that will come out from their well-organized student protest over any hike in fees by higher educational institutions would be more lethal than the troubled EndSar protest.
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