Tinubu signs Student Loans Act 2024

Adejoke Adeogun
Adejoke Adeogun
Tinubu at the signing of Student Loan Bill

President Bola Tinubu has signed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2024 into law, expressing determination to give education the proper attention.

Speaking during the brief signing ceremony, Tinubu said the new law was passed to ensure that no Nigerian will miss out on quality education, not on account of poverty or lack of opportunity.

The new law, which was structured out of one of President Tinubu’s social safety net plans to reorder how wealth is distributed in the country, is aimed at emphasising his belief that education is the primary tool to effectively fight poverty.

The Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act 2023 was signed into law by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR on June 12, 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 the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the Chairman. The Governor implements the committee’s executive decisions and appoints a Secretary to assist.

However, due to 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.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, President Tinubu said: “I have just signed a bill proclaiming the student loan effectively. First of all, I must thank members of the National Assembly for their expeditious handling of this bill, considering the children of Nigeria believe that education is the best 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 drop out of colleges and give up the opportunity. That is no more, the standard and the control are there for you to apply, no matter who you are, as long as you are a Nigerian citizen.”

Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, highlighted that the new law gives opportunities to Nigerians, especially the indigent, to acquire quality education, and for those interested in skills acquisition, he said the law has factored theirs in as well.

“This is a very great day for the country, a great day for education, and a great day for Nigerian students, who have a 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 level 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,” Mamman said.

President of the National Association of 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 the 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, are happy, and 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 turn-around, 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 fulfillment, so we are happy.

“You will see that even Nigerian parents will be happy, and we pray that those that will be given the responsibility will effectively carry it out to ensure that Mr. President’s intention, vision, and mission are to ensure that no Nigerian student is out of school because of school fees.

“Today we are happy. God bless Mr. President and the initiator of this bill. We are happy that it is happening  now,” Emonefe said.

Among those who witnessed the brief signing ceremony were Senate President 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 State for Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande.

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