President Tinubu to launch students loan scheme Thursday — Presidency

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President Bola Tinubu will launch the Student Loan Scheme on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed this when he spoke on a live television programme on Sunday.

On the programme titled ‘Counting the Cost of Presidents Tinubu’s Reforms,’ Ngelale highlighted some of the President’s welfare initiatives being implemented at the moment, saying, “Later this week, on Thursday, the President will launch the historic National Student Loan Programme.”

“This is a major form of obligation reduction for Nigerians and families and young people at a time when Nigerians are feeling the pinch. We believe this is the way to go,” he added.

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

The move was in “fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, which is expected to handle all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

The government initially said it would take effect in September, but it did not.

However, Tinubu had insisted that the scheme would go live in January 2024.

Declaring the 29th session of the annual Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja open on October 23, 2023, the President said, “By January 2024, the new Students Loan Programme must commence. To the future of our children and students, we’re saying no more strikes,”

He proposed N50bn for its take-off in the 2024 budget he presented to the National Assembly last November.

On February 7, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund, Dr Akintunde Sawyerr, confirmed that the much-awaited scheme would go live on February 21, when President Tinubu launches it at the State House, Abuja.

However, the launch was delayed, with Sawyerr, alongside Presidency sources, explaining that the lag time is to enable the Fund to expand its mandate to include students seeking loans for skills development, as directed by the President.

After receiving briefing from the NELFUND team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFUND to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

Linking this directive to the delay, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga had said, “Don’t forget that the last time they met, the President asked them to go and expand their mandate to include those who want to learn vocational skills. That could be the reason why the whole thing was delayed; they had to increase the scope.”

On Saturday, Sawyerr also said that the delay is due to unperfected backend systems to power the application process as the scheme is “entirely technologically driven.”

He said, “The delay in take-off was basically to enable the agency to put all necessary measures in place as the scheme is entirely technologically driven.”