Student Loans Act: Reps tackle Education Ministry over non-implementation

Elizabeth AtimeAugust 11, 20236 min

Rep. Ugbor said the student loan is part of the palliative that the federal government plans to give to Nigerians as it’s a huge benefit to families, and frees up resources for them in other aspects of their lives.

 

 

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The House of Representatives has expressed displeasure over the delay in the implementation of the Student Loans Act even though the President had assured that all barriers to accessing student loans for Nigerians would be unbundled.

Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Students’ Loans (Access to Higher Education), Rep. Terseer Ugbor (APC, Benue), also frowned at the absence of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education at the hearing despite an invitation sent three weeks ago. Still, he chose to send the Director of Legal Services in the ministry to represent him.

Rep. Ugbor made the call during an interface with the Federal Ministry of Education when its officials appeared before the Committee on Thursday in the National Assembly.

 

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The Committee, in its resolution, however, re-invited the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Andrew Adejo, to appear before its Sub-committee on Students’ Loans and Higher Education on Tuesday, August 15, and inform the House of steps put in place by the Ministry to implement the Students Loans Act.

The Chairman also disclosed the Committee’s preparedness to organising a summit in two weeks so as to chart the best possible ways of implementing the Students Loans Act. According to him, the Summit will enable inputs from relevant stakeholders across the board through the memoranda presented, and amendments to the proposed Act will be compiled for the benefit of students.

“The representative of the Permanent Secretary, well, obviously, it seems like the Ministry was not prepared to brief us or provide any detail to this Committee. So, no information whatsoever, apart from the fact that the Committee was set up by the Chief of Staff to the President and comparing Members like you listed here.

You’ve provided no details on the timeframe or details of any ideas of been proposed for amendments to this act and, of course, to help me or the President, who has shown enormous commitment to implementing this Act in the country. This was the first Act that Mr President signed into law on the assumption of office, which means Mr President has a commitment and passion to implement this Students Loans Act, and in the course of his national broadcast a few days ago, he mentioned the barriers he intends to lift.

And he promised Nigerian students that he was going to implement the Students Loan Act so that no Nigerian Student who seeks admission into higher institutions will not be denied, but for your own side and your own representation here today, it seems to us like Mr President’s efforts are not been appropriately communicated to the Nigerian Public or to us.”

 

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“We need more answers because Nigerians are waiting and are desperate to know how this initiative by the President will be executed appropriately. This is part of the palliatives that the federal government intends to give to Nigerians if the Students Loan Programme is implemented in the country.

Apart from the benefit to the Nigerian students, it’s a huge benefit to families and to parents because it reduces the burden of parents in paying off school fees in the higher institutions. So it frees up resources for parents for health care, nutrition for children and other aspects of their life, house rent, and what have you.

So, this is a very important aspect of the federal government’s palliative, and it’s very critical to the 10th House of Representatives led by the Honourable Speaker. This is why this committee was founded to investigate, to review and propose amendments so that Nigerian Students will not have to wait for too long before this scheme is implemented as Student being to reap the benefit of this proposed Students Loan Act.”

 

 

 

Earlier in her submission, the Director of Legal Services from the Federal Ministry of Education, Enonebi Azorbo, said the Ministry will harness all powers within its reach to assist to lift the barriers to the smooth implementation of the Students Loans Act.

Azorbo informed them that a committee has already been constituted, chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, which was inaugurated in June and has been working on modalities towards the implementation of the act.

She again stated: “I would like to say that upon the passage of the Act, Mr. President set up a command. It is housed in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, and they are working on modalities for the implementation.

The membership is as follows: the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Director-General of the Budget Office and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance.”

 

 

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When asked what the Committee had done since inception, Azorbo explained that she had no further information than what she had stated.

“This is really what we have to say. The Committee is working and it has not concluded its job. We don’t have anything to say more than that it is working and we can’t preempt what it is doing,” she added.

In his final remarks, the Chairman reiterated his concerns and the importance of the Students accessing the loans in the quickest possible period due to the biting economic hardship currently experienced by citizens and especially the students.

“This is important to note because the Act puts limitations on accessing these loans, the act puts barriers and limits to accessing the loans by parents of the children who should access the loan limit of N500,000 income for families,” he said.

“Again, this is almost two months that the Committee has been working, so we believe that this committee should be able to come up with some recommendations or some ideas on how they want to proceed and we are really interested in knowing how,” Ugbor added.

 

Elizabeth Atime

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