Why Take Off Of Student Loan Scheme Is Stalled – Investigation

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The January 2024 take off date for the Student Loan Scheme may not be feasible despite assurances from the federal government, investigation by Vanguard has shown.

Among the factors stalling the take off of the scheme is the decision by the Presidency to include people who are not in formal school setting, but are learning to acquire vocational skills through organised trade bodies or trade centres, as part of the beneficiaries.

Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, is opposed to making civil servants on grade level 12 and above, serve as guarantors for beneficiaries.

Speaking on the issue, the National President of NANS, Comrade Lucky Emonefe, said the leadership of the association is yet to meet the government’s team on the matter.

“We thought we would meet the government team last week, but that was not to be. The team only met with the Senior Special Assistant on Students Affairs to tne President. But we have to meet with them. Tne scheme is about students. Also, the President directed that the scheme be extended to those acquiring vocational skills but are not doing so in a formal school setting. Such persons would be identified by the organised trade bodies or centres they belong to. They too must have NIN and BVN.

“As for the financial status of families of beneficiaries, we want as many indigent students as possible to benefit. Anybody who earns N500,000 and above as annual income should be able to sponsor their wards. We also don’t want the provision that one needs two civil servants in grade level 12 and above, as guarantors. Not many students would be able to meet that condition. We want students to only show evidence of being indigent, ” he said.

On how the body wants the money paid to beneficiaries, Emonefe said those in need of tuition fees would have their money paid to their schools, for accommodation purposes, the money would be paid directly to their landlords, and those who need pocket money would have their money paid into their accounts.

He expressed optimism that his team would meet the FG team this week and the scheme could take off later.

Recall that the FG, had on a number of occasions gave January 2024 as the launch date for the scheme, after it could not start late last year.

The major areas some stakeholders want amendments to are the eligibility for the scheme, those to serve as guarantors for beneficiaries and the repayment period.

Apart from being a student of a higher institution in the country, other main conditions to benefit from the scheme are that: The applicant’s income or family income should not exceed N500,000 per annum;

The applicant must provide a minimum of two civil servants as guarantors. These guarantors should either be at least at level 12 in the civil service or meet the following criteria: a lawyer with at least 10 years of post-call experience, a judicial officer, or a Justice of Peace; among others.

Repayment of the loan will commence two years after the completion of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, and the repayment amount will be deducted directly from the beneficiary’s salary at a rate of 10% by the employer, while self-employed beneficiaries will remit 10% of their total monthly profit to the designated Students Loan account prescribed by the Bank.

Furthermore, Section 6 (f) of the Act incorporates a system for continuous monitoring of academic records of the grantees of the loans. It, however, does not provide any approach towards reviewing the courses and curriculum of the students to reflect economic realities to achieve the successful repayment of the loans.

Meanwhile, parents under the aegis of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, through the National President, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, have said they were not taken along by the FG in the design, plan and even execution of the scheme.

“We were not invited for any meeting regarding the planning of the scheme. Not even being asked for any suggestion and parents are critical stakeholders in the education sector. It is like the government feel they only have to relate with students and that is all.

” We have some reservations about some provisions of the law setting up the scheme. For instance, the issue of repayment of the loan, where are the jobs for the beneficiaries to engage in after leaving school? We have other observations, but they have not given us the chance to make any input. Can it really take off this month? Let us wait and see, ” he said

Vanguard

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