• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Gowon’s student loan scheme holds lessons for Tinubu

Gowon’s student loan scheme holds lessons for Tinubu

The travesty surrounding the student loan scheme by President Bola Tinubu, has left many confused about what the piece of legislation stands to offer in the face of previously failed attempts.

Research has shown that the student loan scheme has existed since the 1970s, however, it failed for some reasons among is corruption, and the inability of the board to recover the loans.

In the 1970s, the Federal Military Government promulgated the Nigerian Students’ Loans Board Decree to provide funding to students based on loans repayable 20 years after graduation but it collapsed after a while due to massive indebtedness and corruption.

Read also: FG says student loan postponement is only for weeks, not indefinitely

When the scheme was implemented in the 1970s people who took loans never paid, again, in 1993/1994, the Military-enacted Decree 50 that set up a students’ loan board, according to BusinessDay’s findings.

This was domesticated by the National Assembly in 2004. However, within a year, it went off, and in the usual manner the money disappeared.

By promoting and ensuring financial sustainability, and incorporating mechanisms for adaptability, the President Tinubu student loan initiative is believed to be foundational to a brighter educational future for students, according to experts.

Experts believe that while the loan provides an opportunity to pursue higher education, it also comes with a responsibility: its repayment structure is seen as being stringent.

Hence, its success they say will redefine the country’s tertiary education landscape and its failure will complicate the already existing problems of inadequate funding in the sector.

The experts say if the repayment conditions do not make it easy for those who borrowed the money to pay back, and the managers of the loan are not sincere, it will certainly fail.

Victor Usifor, a legal practitioner, maintained that one of the major challenges before the executors of the student loan scheme is inaccurate data base, which the authorities need to address to curb corruption, and misappropriation of funds.

“In addressing possible mutilations in the student loan scheme, the government will ensure accurate and detailed information of the beneficiary and their guarantor,” he stressed.

“There should be a system to check possible change of data. Those who intentionally default should be sanctioned in accordance with the extant laws,” he said.

Friday Erhabor, the director of media and strategies at Marklenez Limited believes the student loan scheme failed earlier because Nigeria had no national identity system then.

“With all the data that has been generated and every student now has a NIN number, it becomes easier to track.

Read also: Cardoso tasks c’ttee as student loan scheme begins Feb. 26

“For instance if you collect the loan and you fail to pay back, you can be tracked during passport renewal, driver’s license renewal, or anything that will require you registering,” he said.

He further said that if the government is sincere, with the national identity in place, the loan defaulters can be tracked and forced to pay back.

”Government can also partner with organised private sector such that NIN is a requirement for job interview and employment. That makes it easier to track those already employed and in a position to pay back their loan,” he noted.

Speaking on what the government should do to make the student loan scheme, Efriye Bribena, the chief executive officer of TAMIEF International Limited said; “Nothing good can come out of a corrupt system.

“Except the systematic corruption entrenched in the country is dealt with, it is a programme that’s dead on arrival.”

Boye Ogundele, an educationist urges the federal government and its agency to emulate what Ladoke Akintola University did in ensuring that the scheme is a success and beneficial to students.

“What they can do to get the loan back is what some schools are doing such as Ladoke Akintola University. The school will not deprive you of writing your examination in case you cannot pay for your school fees.

“You will graduate like every other person but you will go and source for the money before you get your original certificate. No notification of the result until you pays every kobo. They should ensure that their parents or guardians sign as guarantors with collateral security,” he said.

Evi Itive said that some months ago he listened to a discussion on one of the national television channels where the policy implementation was explained and he believes it is a good idea.

“The point is that students’ loans in other societies have worked and are still working, why shouldn’t it work in Nigeria?

I think the reason Nigerians are skeptical about its success is because of the failure we see in our administrative set back. The problem of abuse of responsibility, and misuse of office by those concerned,” he noted.

Itive reiterated that if the authorities concerned can be courageous enough to tackle corruption, the scheme would succeed.

“Outside the personal afflicted ills by ourselves we can achieve the purpose. It’s obvious that the inadequate allocation of funds to education in Nigeria translates to poor infrastructure, an outdated curriculum, and non-payment of lecturers,” he said.

Read also: Nigerians call out FG as student loan drags

The special committee saddled with managing the student loan scheme is known as the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) which comprises of Olayemi Cardoso, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as the chairman, Akintunde Sawyerr, as the secretary and representatives of the ministries, departments, and agencies as stipulated in the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act 2023.

Others are representative of the Minister of Education, representative of the Minister of Finance; chairman of the National Universities Commission; representative of Vice-Chancellors Forum; and representative of rectors and provost forum.

Also included are the auditor general of the federation, representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association, representative of Academic Staff Union of Universities (who have written to decline membership of the committee).