Senate passes amended student loan bill

THE Nigerian Senate passed the Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment Bill) on Wednesday, March 20.

The resolution came after the chairman of the Senate’s committee on tertiary institutions and TETFUND, Muntari Dandutse, presented a report on the bill on Wednesday.

The bill was first signed into law by President Bola Tinubu in June 2023 to enable students in need to access interest-free loans to pursue their education in any tertiary institution in the country.

However, its implementation was postponed for a period. During the postponement, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFund), Akintunde Sawyer, said he could not give a specific date for the commencement of the programme.

However, Tinubu wrote to the Senate on March 14, seeking a repeal of the Students Loans Act 2023 and a re-enactment of the Students Loan Bill 2024.






     

     

    In the letter, he also sought the Senate’s expeditious consideration of the process.

    “Pursuant to Section 58 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I forward, herewith, the Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2024 for the kind consideration of the House,” the President’s letter reads.

    “The Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2024 seeks to enhance the implementation of the Higher Education Student Loan Scheme by addressing challenges related to the management structure of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELF), applicant eligibility requirements, loan purpose, funding sources, and disbursement and repayment procedures,” Tinubu noted in the letter.

    Although the bill is touted to ease access to tertiary education for Nigerian students, it attracted criticism from some Nigerians, including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who described the bill as an attempt by the government to abandon funding of education in public universities.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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