According to Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), beneficiaries of student loan initiatives in other countries are resorting to suicide due to their inability to repay debts. He shared this information during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
Osodeke suggested that instead of labeling the initiative as a loan, it should be referred to as a grant, particularly for financially disadvantaged students. He argued that since the funding comes from the Federation Account, those who receive it should not face the risk of imprisonment if they fail to repay within two years of graduation.
In light of this, Osodeke called upon President Bola Tinubu to amend the recently enacted Students Loans Act and convert it into grants for underprivileged students. The Student Loan law currently offers interest-free loans to economically disadvantaged Nigerian students, with repayments beginning two years after the completion of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program.
However, the ASUU President expressed concerns about the sustainability of the policy. He pointed out that previous attempts at implementing student loan programs in Nigeria, such as the establishment of a bank in 1972 and the enactment of Decree 50 by the military in 1994, have been unsuccessful. He further noted that more than 90% of students would not meet the requirements to access the loan.
Osodeke highlighted the negative consequences of student loans in other countries, citing cases of individuals committing suicide. He also mentioned President Joe Biden’s efforts to alleviate the burden of bank loans for some borrowers in the United States.
In addition to addressing the student loan issue, the ASUU President called for a thorough investigation into the activities of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).