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CSO to Tinubu: Student loan scheme unsustainable… it’ll cause distress to youths

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The Network for Social Growth and Actualization of Viable Development (NEFGAD), a civil society organisation (CSO), says the student loan initiative of the President Bola Tinubu Administration is “unsustainable and injurious” to the country’s development.

In June 2023, Tinubu signed the student loan bill into law to provide financial assistance to Nigerian students in tertiary institutions.

However, the law is yet to take effect because of some issues impeding its rollout. The plan to start the programme between September and October 2023 was unsuccessful. New launch dates in January, February, and March also did not materialise.

On Thursday, Tinubu asked the national assembly to repeal and reenact the student loan law.

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In a statement on Sunday, Akingunola Omoniyi, NEFGAD head of office, said the series of postponements and uncertainties around the launch of the scheme show that the idea is weak and a mere campaign slogan that should have ended with the 2023 general election.

Akingunola said the policy lacks the adequate support system necessary for efficient operations and will end up killing the morale of Nigerian youth in the long run.

He said the government should first address the challenges of youth unemployment and underemployment.

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‘’A country with an over 40% unemployment rate and more under-employed should expect an over 50% student loan defaulters rate; hence, putting over 50% of a country’s supposed productive youth population automatically under the perpetual burden and stigma of insolvency is retrogressive and detrimental to the aspirations of a developing nation,” the statement reads.

“Unlike Nigeria, in countries where such policies work, the governments of those countries have proper employment and retirement plans for their citizens right from the day of birth.

“The Students Loan Scheme, if allowed to stand, will further worsen the situation of Nigerian youth and render them more distressed by combining the trauma of joblessness with the burden of insolvency.”

Akingunola said if at all the bill must succeed, Tunubu and the national assembly should ensure that robust and sustainable job creation strategies are first in place.

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He also said the loan could be converted to grants for deserving indigent students.

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