Professor Uchefula Chukwumaeze, the Vice Chancellor of Imo State University (IMSU), expressed his positive view on President Bola Tinubu’s student loan initiative, but emphasized that the success lies in effective implementation.
Speaking to reporters in Owerri on Sunday regarding Tinubu’s administration and the student loan, Chukwumaeze straightforwardly stated, “Any policy that ensures students have access to meals is commendable. However, the real challenge lies in how well it is executed. As I’ve mentioned, a law that ensures students’ well-being is a commendable one.”
Discussing matters concerning Imo State University, Chukwumaeze disclosed that he encounters daily threats in his relentless efforts to eliminate corruption and unprofessional behavior among certain lecturers within the institution. Explaining how he gathers information about such misconduct, he revealed that he established an email platform for students to report their concerns. He shared, “We receive about ten emails daily through the channels we’ve set up.”
He elaborated on his approach, stating, “Upon inheriting a system riddled with corruption and rampant manipulation of results, I instituted an open-door policy to address these issues. I face threats constantly as I endeavor to root out corruption, but my faith is unwavering.
I am resolute and will persist in doing what is right. Our strategy involved setting up an anonymous email for students to communicate their challenges and experiences. Regularly, we receive emails from students, and upon review, we take appropriate action. We maintain the confidentiality of the complainants.”
Chukwumaeze highlighted, “We have taken measures to suspend lecturers for engaging in unprofessional conduct. We’ve put a halt to the sale of handouts and suspended seven lecturers. Our commitment extends to eradicating corruption across all aspects. Additionally, we’ve established a policy where no lecturer can possess exam scripts beyond four weeks after the conclusion of the examination period.”
Here’s a comprehensive overview of Nigeria’s new student loan law:
The Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, which was recently signed into law, has sparked a range of reactions. President Bola Tinubu’s administration aims to provide interest-free education loans to individuals seeking tertiary education in Nigeria. Commonly referred to as the Students Loan Act, the Access to Higher Education Act establishes an Education Loan Fund to assist Nigerians in funding their higher education. Repayment of these loans will commence two years after the completion of their participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program.
Education Loan Fund:
The Nigerian Education Loan Fund is established by the Act to handle all aspects of loan requests, grants, disbursement, and loan recovery. Funding sources include one percent of federal government profits from oil and minerals, one percent of taxes from entities such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), education bonds, education endowment fund schemes, donations, gifts, grants, and other revenue.
The fund will be managed by an 11-person special committee chaired by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor. This committee will oversee application processes, eligibility criteria, loan disbursement, and repayment details. The committee includes representatives from the education and finance ministries, the National Universities Commission (NUC), university vice-chancellors, polytechnic rectors, and other relevant stakeholders.
Eligibility and Application:
Only students from government-owned tertiary institutions are eligible for the loan. Applicants must have an annual income or family income below N500,000 and provide at least two guarantors who meet specific criteria. Guarantors can be civil servants, experienced lawyers, judicial officers, or justices of peace.
Loan repayment begins two years after completion of the NYSC program. Beneficiaries will remit 10 percent of their income each month or 10 percent of their monthly profit if self-employed. Defaulters may face a fine of N500,000, a two-year jail term, or both.
To apply, candidates must submit applications through their respective banks to the committee chaired by the CBN governor. Applications should include a cover letter from the head of their institution, admission letter, guarantor letters, passport photographs, employer and employment evidence, and additional documentation for self-employed guarantors.
Communication and Disbursement:
Applicants will be informed of their application status within 14 days of submission. Disbursement will be subject to fund availability.
While the new law holds promise for increasing access to higher education in Nigeria, effective implementation and adherence to the outlined processes will be critical to its success.