Signing Student Loans Act, Tinubu Pledges to Pay Special Attention to Education

•Stresses no Nigerian student will be denied access to quality education 

•Says education remains only tool to effectively fight poverty

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, signed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2024 into law at a brief ceremony at State House, Abuja, saying he would give deserving attention to education.

The short ceremony held in his office was witnessed by President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Deputy Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau; Chief of Staff to the President, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Tanko Sununu; and Minister of Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande.

Tunubu said the new law was enacted to ensure that no Nigerian missed out on quality education, on account of poverty or lack of opportunity.

He said the law, which was structured out of one of his social safety net plans dedicated to reordering how wealth was distributed in the country, was aimed at emphasising his belief that education was the primary tool to effectively fight poverty.  

The Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act 2023 was initially signed into law by President Tinubu on 12th June 2023, with the Act establishing the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) to supervise, coordinate, administer and monitor the management of student loans in Nigeria.

The administration of the fund was vested in a special committee, with Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as Chairman, who would implement the committee’s executive decisions and appoint a secretary to assist him.

However, due to a number of challenges identified with the Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act 2023, the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill 2024 was proposed to resolve the identified challenges.

It was thereafter sent to the National Assembly, which recently passed the revised bill for the assent of the president.

After signing the bill into law, Tinubu said, “I have just signed a bill proclaiming the student loans 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. 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.

“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.”

Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, stressed that the new law gave opportunities to Nigerians, especially the indigent, to acquire quality education and for those interested in skills acquisition.

Mamman stated, “This is a very great day for the country, great day for education, great day for Nigerian students, who have great need for support. We want to thank Mr President for his compassion and passion for the downtrodden, who are the beneficiaries of this scheme.

“Now, the days when students will be struggling to sponsor themselves in their various educational endeavours are over, both at the tertiary and those who are seeking skills, who are seeking to be skilled, to be empowered and to move on with their lives. It’s a very great day for the country.”

President of the National Association Nigerian Students (NANS), Lucky Emonefe, thanked Tinubu for staying faithful to his promise of making education available through the student loans scheme.

Describing the president as the father of modern education in Nigeria, Emonefe said, “This is commendable. As for Nigerian students that are represented here, we’re happy, we’ve seen Mr President’s commitment to the development of education and today the entire education system is happy; the Nigerian students, particularly, we’re happy, our parents are happy, that, yes, in Nigeria, even the children of the poor can have access to quality education.

“We’ve seen Mr President’s commitment at the signing of the bill today. It shows that Mr President is the father of modern education in Nigeria and the initiator of this bill. He’s a hero of education, so we’re happy.

“We’ve never seen this before, the education system in Nigeria will have a turnaround and we say that this is a happy moment for us, we’ll celebrate this. We are thanking Mr President for this commitment, he made the vow and today it has come to fulfilment so we are happy.”

Emonefe challenged managers of the loan scheme to ensure its effective implementation.

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