Photo by Kola Sulaimon/AFP via Getty Images)
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu signs Students Loan Bill
The bill will provide an opportunity for underprivileged citizens—who constitute a significant portion of Nigeria's growing population—to access government loans for quality education.
Recently elected President of Nigeria Bola Tinubu wasted no time implementing significant changes through his administration, following a controversial start to his presidency. Fulfilling one of his campaign promises, Tinubu signed the Students Loan Bill into law earlier this week.
The bill will provide an opportunity for underprivileged citizens—who constitute a significant portion of Nigeria's growing population—to access government loans for quality education. The loans will apply to universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and vocational schools established by both the federal and state governments, with the exception of private universities. Eligible applicants must come from households earning less than N500,000 ($1,000) per year.
Dele Alake, an aide to President Tinubu, announced the signing on Monday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Alake highlighted the significance of this achievement, stating, "This fulfils the promise made by then-candidate His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the presidential campaign to prioritize student loans. Today, that promise has been kept. He has just signed the bill into law, which will enable indigent students to access federal government loans to fund their education, aligning with practices in other developed countries around the world."
\u201cTinubu signs student loan bill into law\u201d— Politics Nigeria (@Politics Nigeria) 1686589946
The Students Loan Bill is sponsored by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila of the 9th House of Representatives. And according to the Act, the loan will be exclusively allocated for the payment of tuition fees. The interest-free loan will be disbursed based on the student's years of study and repayment capability. Students who take out loans will be required to begin repaying them two years after completing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). The law mandates collaboration between the education loan fund, students, and their employers to facilitate automatic deductions from their income through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. Failure to secure employment within two years after completing the NYSC program may result in a two-year prison sentence for loan defaulters. Additionally, the law specifies that employers must deduct 10% of an employee's salary, regardless of the loan repayment period's duration.
The student loan bill in Nigeria has raised a few concerns among citizens due to the country's staggering unemployment rate of 40%. Many individuals are apprehensive about their ability to find employment within the required timeframe to initiate loan repayments. Accessing the loan also requires the provision of two guarantors from specific professional backgrounds, which could potentially restrict deserving students who do not meet these criteria.
Andrew Adejo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, expressed his satisfaction with the bill, stating that it will alleviate the financial constraints hindering indigent students' pursuit of education. He emphasized that the signing of the bill demonstrates the Tinubu administration's commitment to addressing the quality and quantity of education during its tenure.
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