No Student Will Drop Out Again, Says Tinubu

No student will drop out of university over inability to pay tuition, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said yesterday.

He spoke after signing the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2024 into law.

It was during a brief signing ceremony at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The President said the new law was passed to ensure that no citizens will miss out on quality education on account of poverty or lack of opportunity.

He said: “I have just signed a bill proclaiming the student loan effective.

“First of all, I must thank members of the National Assembly for their expeditious handling of this bill, considering that education is the tool to fight against poverty.

“We are determined to ensure that education is given the proper attention, 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 saw a lot of our children drop out of college.

“That is no more. No matter who you are, as long as you are a Nigerian citizen, you can apply.”

The amended bill was sent by the President to the National Assembly last month. It got a record passage at the two chambers, having been passed after just three legislative days.

The key highlight of the new law is the funding of the loan.

One per cent of the annual revenue generated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will be dedicated.

This year the FIRS has a tax revenue target of N19.4 trillion.

Should the FIRS hit its 2024 target, it means that N194 billion will go to the student loan fund.

Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, explained that the law was all-encompassing

He said: “This is a very great day for the country, for education, and for Nigerian students and who have a great need for support.

“We 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 and those who are seeking skills.”

National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) President Lucky Emonefe said: “We’re happy. We’ve seen Mr President’s commitment to the development of education and today the entire education system is happy.

Students are happy; our parents are happy. Even the children of the poor can have access to quality education.

“Signing the bill shows that Mr President is the father of modern education in Nigeria. He’s a hero of education, so we’re happy.”

The Senate and House of Representatives passed the Bill on March 20 after considering the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

The law provides for the establishment of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund and removes the family income threshold as a condition for accessing the loan.

Under the law, false declaration attracts three years in jail, while there is loan repayment forgiveness in case of a beneficiary’s death.

The hurdles of a guarantor, a parent’s debt profile and others in the old Act have been removed, thereby making it easier for the loan to be accessed.

President Tinubu, on June 12, 2023, signed into law the defunct Student Loan Bill to provide interest-free loans to Nigerians seeking higher education.

At the bill signing event were Senate President Godswill Akpabio, Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau; Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Education Yusuf Tanko Sununu and Minister of State for Youth Development Ayodele Olawande.

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