The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has sponsored a student loan bill in the National Assembly which aims to enable Nigerian students in tertiary institutions to have access to financial assistance.
The proposed legislation is titled, ‘Bill for an Act to provide for easy access to higher education for Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Bank.’
The bill seeks the establishment of the Nigerian Education Bank which shall have powers to supervise, coordinate, administer and monitor the management of student loans in Nigeria and receive applications for student loans through higher institutions in Nigeria on behalf of the applicants, screen the applications to ensure that all requirements for the grant of such loans under the legislation were satisfied.
The bank shall also have the powers to approve and disburse the loan to qualified applicants; control, monitor and coordinate the students’ loan account; fund and ensure compliance in respect of disbursement; monitor academic records of grantees of the loan to obtain information on their year of graduation, national service, employment to ensure that grantees of the loan commence repayment of the loan as at when due, among other functions.
Hon. Gbajabiamila had argued in the proposed legislation that the hardship being faced by the unemployed and low-income earners coupled with the very high cost of living in Nigeria over the years made access to quality higher education difficult, stressful and, in some cases, impossible.
He also noted that a well-educated citizenry was critical to the nation’s development and its ability to compete in the global economy, arguing that higher education should be regarded as a public good benefiting the entire country rather than a commodity solely benefiting the individual recipients.
Lanre Lasisi, spokesperson to Hon. Gbajabiamila, said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday that both chambers of the National Assembly have passed the bill.
He said the House of Representatives had passed the bill earlier this year and forwarded it to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate, in turn, passed the bill on Tuesday, 22 November.
According to Lasisi, with the Senate’s concurrence on the bill, a clean copy would be produced and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. He said once it is signed into law, Nigerian students could begin accessing the loans.
The bill provides that all students seeking higher education in any public institution in Nigeria shall have an equal right to access the loan without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.as seen in video circulating the social media showing persons fleeing the Mgbuji community.
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