Mon, 15 Apr 2024

 

Students loan scheme will keep beneficiaries in permanent debt -ASUU
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Thu, 15 Feb 2024   ||   Nigeria,
 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said the proposed education loan scheme will keep students in permanent debt.

According to a statement on Thursday after its National Executive Council meeting at the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, ASUU said it was surprised by the reports it received on the failed promises of the Bola Tinubu-led administration toward addressing the lingering issues that forced the union to embark on the nationwide strike action of February–October 2022.

Successive governments in Nigeria had always paid lip service to the agreements it signed with the union which inadvertently made the union always resolve to use industrial action to fight for its rights.

Unfortunately, some of these agreements, including payment of Earned Academic Allowance, and the unprogressive renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, removal from the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, revitalisation funds, withheld salaries have not been implemented by the government.

But ASUU insisted that the Students Loan Scheme, being promoted by international money lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank would starve public universities of funding.

The statement read, “For the avoidance of doubt, the NEC of ASUU reiterated its rejection of the Students Loan Scheme which is being promoted by international money lending agencies such as IMF and World Bank.

“Nigerians should be aware that the scheme is a way of starving public universities of funding and a ploy to divert public funds into private universities owned by politically exposed individuals and their friends.

“NEC further observed that the students’ loan scheme will mortgage the entire university system and keep our promising students in perpetual indebtedness.

“If the scheme could fail in some better-managed economies, there is no guarantee that it will succeed in Nigeria where unbridled corruption, nepotism, and other unsavoury tendencies conspired to kill the Education Bank project after over five years of its existence.”

ASUU, however, suggested that if the state and Federal Governments truly wished to invest in the lives of Nigerian students, grants and scholarships should be made available to students while the Needs-Based Budgeting System should be restored to the university system for greater efficiency.

The National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in the statement, said the union condemned the huge fee hike in schools, saying funds diverted from the government’s treasuries should be used to fund universities.

It read, “NEC condemns in its entirety the wave of fee hike without inputs of the victims across our campuses.

“Daily scandalous reports of stupendous funds diverted from government treasuries at state and Federal levels reinforce our belief that resources available to the country could support government-funded university education –without excessive pressures on parents as currently done.”

It explained that had the Federal Government kept fate with the MoU 2013, which provided for N1.3t over a period of six years, many universities would have been restored to a level at which they could attract foreign students and become renowned for cutting-edge and transformative research.

“We challenge the Tinubu administration to urgently initiate moves to conduct another needs assessment exercise to empirically verify our call for massive intervention in our public universities.

“It was the Federal Government’s response to a similar challenge in 2012 that gave rise to the aggregate sum of N1.3 trillion which the Government has since abrogated,” it said.

 

 

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