In a recent announcement, the Federal Ministry of Education has revealed its plans to kickstart the implementation of the long-awaited Students Loans scheme during the upcoming 2023/2024 academic session.

David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, unveiled this pivotal information while engaging with the House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans.

Furthermore, Adejo took the opportunity to debunk rumors that the enactment of the Students Loan Act had triggered a surge in charges by several federal universities. He clarified that President Bola Tinubu has personally directed the expedited finalization of the necessary groundwork for the seamless introduction of the students’ loan program, with a targeted launch date set for September 2023.

To facilitate the successful execution of this initiative, Adejo elaborated that President Tinubu has established a coordinating committee, led by the Chief of Staff, which encompasses key stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Budget Office, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Finance, among others.

Adejo underlined that this committee has gone a step further by constituting a dedicated technical team. This specialized team is entrusted with the formidable task of crafting a robust framework to initiate the program and address any potential legal impediments that could potentially hinder Nigerians from accessing the loans.

Amidst discussions, Adejo also expressed regret regarding the recent fee hikes introduced by federal universities in the country. However, he clarified that no federal university is authorized to levy tuition fees on students.

He said, “What they collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the Universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.

“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the student loans act is the University of Lagos. They came to the Ministry with a proposal to Increase their charges because all Governing Councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.

“Immediately that was done, there was a resolution from the House stopping the increase of fees and the president also gave a directive stopping any increase in fees and that is where it is, even though several others have brought their proposal.

The permanent secretary further explained that the charges collected by the institutions are used by them to pay for some of their services, including electricity bills.

He said, “For example, we had to bail out Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with about N1 billion to pay its electricity bill. The school just resume academic sessions because they were in darkness.

“They were supposed to build theatres and we told them, you cannot build theatre when you are in the dark because you need power to operate.”

The director of Legal Services of the Central Bank of Nigeria who represented the Acting Governor of the Central Bank, Kofo Salami Alada said the student loan was being designed to be technology driven.

He said the CBN will not be responsible for the funding of the exercise, adding that its responsibility will be the bankers to the fund as the funds will be provided solely by the government.

According to him, while the current law provides for 1 percent of internally generated revenue, they are working on having an acceptable source either from the Federations Account or from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The chairman of the committee, Teseer Ugbor said the students’ loan was part of the palliatives by the federal government to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and ensure access to higher education by interested Nigerians.

He, however, expressed concern about the disbursement process, the recovery of the funds from beneficiaries as well as the possibility of some students not being able to access the loan.

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