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Unveiling Tinubu’s Mirage: The Illusion of Student Loans in Nigeria By Adedapo Taiwo Emmanuel (Network)

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Some of us have opined that the Neo-classical policies of Tinubu are ill-suited for a country like Nigeria. While many of these policies appear to be mere propaganda aimed at creating an illusion of progress, it is evident to a discerning few that Tinubu never adequately prepared for governance, and the current state of affairs in the polity reflects this lack of preparation.

One fundamental purpose of the state is to provide for its people’s basic needs, including education. However, amidst economic challenges, instead of prioritizing education and alleviating the burden on students by providing palliatives, Tinubu’s administration has opted to increase school fees and other charges, further exacerbating students’ financial strain.

In June, Tinubu enacted the Student Loan Act, despite vehement opposition from intellectuals and groups such as ASUU, student organizations, and thought leaders. They foresee dire consequences, including increased financial burden and restricted access to education. While some, particularly Tinubu’s apologists and APC members, perceive the loan as a viable solution, it remains a mirage. The debate extends beyond accessibility to encompass the adverse impact on students unable to repay the loans.

This loan, with its stringent requirements and potential long-term consequences, is unsuitable for a country like Nigeria, grappling with high unemployment rates. In countries like the USA, where such loans are implemented, many students face insurmountable debt, leading to dire outcomes such as suicide, incarceration, and mental health issues. Considering the potential ramifications, even President Biden contemplated forgiving such loans in the USA.

Historically, similar loan schemes in Nigeria, such as those introduced during Gowon’s military regime in 1972 and later in 1993 and 1994, were short-lived due to widespread defaulting. These policies serve commercial interests of the ruling elites who want to commercilise education rather than the welfare of the populace, perpetuating inequality in access to education.

Despite warnings from stakeholders, the federal government, the Tinubu’s administration, persistently pushes for this policy. However, the promised student loans, initially slated for September 2023 and later January 2024, remain elusive as of March 2024. This failure, coupled with brutal increases in school fees, demonstrates a disregard for the welfare of Nigerian students.

Rather than burdening students further, Tinubu’s administration could emulate Awolowo’s approach by converting the loan into grants and scholarships for needy students. During Awolowo’s tenure, states under the UPN provided scholarships, ensuring education affordability and minimal fees. It is imperative for all stakeholders to rally for accessible education regardless of economic status.

Adedapo Taiwo Emmanuel (Network), Public Relations Officer, NANS JCC Osun, writes from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. 08108351514


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