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Nigeria: Tinubu signs student loan bill into law

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President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, passed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2024, into law.

This comes after separate considerations by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund.

 

Speaking after he signed the bill, Tinubu said no Nigerian, regardless of their background, will be excluded from obtaining quality education.

 

“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,” said the President at the State House, Abuja.

 

The executive bill titled “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act, 2023 and Enact the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Bill, 2004 to Establish the Nigerian Education Loan Fund as a body corporate to receive, manage and invest funds to provide loans to Nigerians for higher education, vocational training and skills acquisition and for related matters” was signed in the presence of the leadership of the National Assembly, Ministers and Major Stakeholders of Education.

 

This followed separate considerations by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund.

 

Tinubu thanked the National Assembly for considering the piece of legislation speedily, affirming that the administration is determined to increase the skill levels of Nigerians.

 

He 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.

 

“We are here because we are all educated and were helped. In the past, we have seen a lot of our children dropped out of colleges and given up the opportunity. That is no more, the standard and the control is there for you to apply no matter who you are as long as you are a Nigerian citizen.”

 

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023 into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

 

The move was in “fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

 

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

 

Although the government initially announced that the scheme will be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

 

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

 

After receiving briefing from the NELFUND team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President had directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

 

Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

 

“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

 

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

 

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFUND to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

 

Credit: punchng.com

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