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Monday, March 4, 2024

Nigerian government provides student loans to those enrolled in skills programs

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President Bola Tinubu has directed the management of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) to extend the interest-free loan initiative to Nigerian students interested in skill development programmes.

The President issued this directive in the House of Representatives on Monday following a briefing by the Executive Secretary of the Intervention Programme, Akintunde Sawyerr, according to a statement by the President’s Spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale.

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The statement added that the implementation of the loan begins “at the end of this month.”

The statement reads in part: “The President said it is important that the scheme accommodates those who do not want to pursue a university education, noting that acquiring skills is as important as gaining undergraduate and postgraduate academic qualifications.

“This is not an exclusive program. It is aimed at all our young people. Young Nigerians are talented in different areas. This is not just for those who want to be doctors, lawyers and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their trained and skilled hands to build our nation. “In line with this, I have instructed NELFUND to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill development programs because not everyone wants to receive a full university education.”

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He quoted Mr Tinubu as emphasizing the need for equity and inclusion in the management of the programme, adding that there is no compromise in his government’s commitment to the disadvantaged citizens of Nigeria.

PREMIUM TIMES previously reported that Sawyerr promised a loan application process with limited human interface.

Technology to drive the initiative

The statement said he also told the president that the process would be technology-driven and would eliminate any possibility of mismanagement in the program.

“By design, this is a perpetual program and will not end. The funds, earmarked for genuine Nigerian students, will be disbursed directly to the institutions in the initial phase through electronic transfer. “Our students will be served in a manner that avoids human interference by fully utilizing the technological platforms available, in accordance with His Excellency’s stated objectives,” he said in the statement.

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He said NELFUND has developed a robust risk mitigation mechanism to address potential risks that may arise from the program.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji, said funding sources have been made available to ensure the smooth take-off and maintenance of the programme.

“Mr President is permanently solving the problem of funding education in Nigeria. At the direction of the President, the Education Tax Fund is being reviewed to additionally address the needs of our university students in all local government areas of the country as they seek to access traditional and vocational university education. The funds for the program will be adequately covered,” he stated.

About NELFUND

The Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) is the creation of the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023.

The law, popularly known as the Student Loans Act, seeks to provide loans to indigent Nigerian students to pay fees at any Nigerian tertiary institution.

NELFUND is the body created by Law to manage all loan applications, grants, disbursements and recovery of loans granted.

The Fund, according to the law, will be financed from multiple sources and will be dedicated to other productive activities.

Its funding sources as dictated by the Law include; one percent of all federal government profits from oil and other minerals; one percent of taxes, levies and duties due to the federal government from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); educational bonds and educational endowment fund schemes.

It would also be funded by donations, gifts, grants, endowments and income the fund receives from any other source, according to the law.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter for Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which pairs local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the world.

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