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Student loan bill becomes law

The student loan bill is now law consequent upon its scaling first, second, and third readings in both parliamentary sittings.

 

The National Assembly, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, on Wednesday finally passed the bill.

The Senate resolution followed the consideration of the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

The chairman of the committee, Muntari Dandutse, presented the report during the plenary.

President Bola Tinubu had on March 14 written to the National Assembly to repeal and reenact the student loan bill.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, read the President’s letter during plenary.

The President also sent a similar letter to the Senate, asking the lawmakers to accord his request “expeditious consideration.”

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, read the Senate’s version during the plenary in the red chamber.

“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 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’s letter read.

Recall, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, Akintunde Sawyer, had granted an interview to say that the launch of the scheme had been suspended indefinitely.

According to him, the loan scheme was postponed due to some corrections that were being made around the launch.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to commit to a specific date. We are sort of waiting to ensure that all the stakeholders are aligned to make sure that nobody is blindsided, then we can actually roll this out in a meaningful, comprehensive, wholesome and sustainable way,” he said.

However, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, said the launch was only postponed for a couple of weeks and not indefinitely.

Echono said, “The loan has not been postponed indefinitely. There’s just a little housekeeping that needs to be done. The President has arrangements in place for the launch.”

In June 2023, Tinubu signed a bill to start a Students Loan Fund that would give interest-free loans to Nigerians for higher education.

A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, proposed the bill, which was supposed to start between September and October 2023.

Meanwhile, Tinubu said the programme would begin in January 2024 after missing the October deadline.

 

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