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Nigeria’s Student Loan Comes With Underlying Load Of Mess

By Ismaila Biliaminu Manne President Bola Ahmad Tinubu signed into law the bill to establish a Students Loan Fund (SLF) to provide interest-free loans to…

By Ismaila Biliaminu Manne

President Bola Ahmad Tinubu signed into law the bill to establish a Students Loan Fund (SLF) to provide interest-free loans to Nigerians seeking higher education to enhance easy access to quality education at the tertiary level and expand access to education to all Nigerians regardless of their backgrounds.

Virtually, it may sound logical in some quarters that the proposed student loan will serve as a solution for students who have no financial means to pursue their studies in any tertiary institution of their choice, but psychologically, it will end up being a burden to the underprivileged students.

Meanwhile, most indigent students and their parents view it as a great solution and a favour offered to them by the Nigerian government.

Alas, it is not! These are the points we miss out on: no one will think it is a huge burden as its posterity will spell challenges, and no one will cogitate that it is even a constitutional duty of the government to provide a free educational system to support all and sundry in our developing nation.

The government by passing the student loan bill has in many dimensions developed an initiative targeted at placing the burden of education funding on the shoulders of students and their poor parents to suffer the consequences at the time of repayment.

The bill was sponsored by the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. It was introduced in 2016 as part of measures towards addressing the funding gaps in the country’s tertiary education subsector.

By the dictates of the law, a beneficiary of this loan is expected to begin repayment of the loan two years after undergoing the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

Nigeria is a country with a long history of unemployment issue, raising the question of how the beneficiary will afford to repay the loan if unemployed and struggling to survive.

On the 5th of September, 2022. According to Trading Economics, a data-analysis outlet, the unemployment rate in Nigeria has steadily increased to a greater level, thus killing the efforts of the labour force as many depend on them.

“Nigeria’s unemployment rate is expected to hit 33% by 2022. In the previous year, this rate was anticipated to be 32.5%,” the report shows.

The Federal Government has created psychological trauma for the graduates by making them work enormously to repay the loan since there is little or no hope for them getting a job in the country.

Oligarchy in education? In my view, it seems that the Nigerian government is planning to privatize public-owned universities through high tuition fees to frustrate students, make them lose hope of a better future, and fall victim to the bait of this loan.

On this basis, I think that student loan in Nigeria will make tertiary education the exclusive preserve of the rich upper class. This is in a country where about 70 per cent of the population currently live in poverty.

If privatization is the answer, it is only likely to widen the gap between rich and poor children. It will deny many children affordable and quality education, increase the rate of illiteracy, and reduce academic performance at the tertiary level.

Therefore, the federal government should start supporting the students with a better offer and not lend them some funds to run their intellectual development. If the government ends up withdrawing its support from public higher institutions as many fear, then it is privatizing the institutions, and no low-class citizens would have the zeal to further their education in the country. It will also increase the number of out-of-school citizens in the country and worsen poverty.

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