President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has disclosed that his administration’s Students Loans Scheme will commence in January 2024.
This is as he declared that the era of industrial actions in the nation’s academic environment has come to an end.
The President made the declaration in an address at the 29th edition of the annual Nigerian Economic Summit, anchored by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Monday, October 23, 2023.
“By January 2024, the new Students Loan Programme must commence. To the future of our children and students we’re saying no more strikes.
“There must be a Consumer Credit Scheme which will have to come to effect as soon as possible.
“We cannot talk about anti-corruption when you have to look for cash to buy a car, when there’s no mortgage for homeownership,” he said.
The president in June 2023, signed into law a bill that provides interest-free education loans for Nigerians willing to acquire tertiary education.
The Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, otherwise known as students loan Act, establishes an Education Loan Fund to help Nigerians fund their higher education, while they pay in instalments two years after completing their participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.
The bill, first introduced in 2016 by Femi Gbajabiamila, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, was reintroduced in 2019 and received more attention from the National Assembly in November 2022.
It was barely a month after the end of an eight-month-long industrial action by the nation’s university workers’ union who had protested poor working conditions, among other demands.
The Act establishes the Nigerian Education Loan Fund which is expected to handle all loan requests, grants, disbursement and recuperation of the loans provided.
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The Fund, according to the Act, is to be funded from multiple streams and will engage in other productive activities.
Its sources of funding 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.
The fund is to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and managed by an 11-person special committee chaired by the CBN governor, the law stipulates in Section 5.
The special committee consists of the CBN governor as chairperson and a secretary to be appointed by the chairperson.
Members of the committee as dictated by the law includes; the ministers responsible for education and finance, or the latter’s representatives, and the Auditor-General of the Federation.
Other members are; the Chairman, National Universities Commission (NUC), a representative of the forum of university vice-chancellors, a representative of the forum of polytechnic rectors and forum of provosts of all colleges of education in the country.
Also, a representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and a representative of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), are also members.
This committee would decide the broad modalities including the process of application for the loan, who is qualified to get the loan and when they should pay back among other details.
“…the Committee shall establish regulations and guidelines for the management, administration, disbursement and recoupment of students’ loans under this Act, and all stakeholders including parents, students’ applicants, beneficiaries of the students’ loans and deposit banks shall comply with the regulations and guidelines,” Section 5(5) states.”
Section 5(2) of the Act also states that the fund “shall be domiciled with, managed and administered by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the money deposit banks in Nigeria for the purpose set out under section 6 of this Act,”
Meanwhile, the tenure of each member lasts through the time they hold their positions. As soon as they are replaced or retired, their successor takes their position in the special committee, Section 8 states.
A member also ceases to continue being a part of the committee when they become bankrupt, convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or fraud or becomes of unsound mind or is incapable for any reason of discharging their duties.