The Nigerian Law Society(NLS) at the weekend took a critical look at the Students Loan Act just passed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and declared that it is not for the ordinary citizens of Nigeria. “I think it is a distraction and an attempt to shift focus from the suffering inherent on ground”, said Kunle Ogunba SAN, NLS President.
NLS is an association of lawyers like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) but just founded recently.
In a statement signed by Ogunba, and the Publicity Secretary, Bayo Akinlade, the lawyers association said that the Students Loan Law cannot be an answer or palliative to the hardship brought upon Nigerians by the removal of subsidy on petrol.
Ogunba said:”If you look at the onerous conditions to access the loan, it is clearly not for the ordinary citizens and no propaganda should be tolerated to make it look like the Student Loan Law is Tinubu’s response to the dis-equilibrium which the increase in fuel prices has wrought on the citizenry, student Loan is not and could not have been the much sought after panacea for the suffering on ground”.
Besides, Ogunba said that the present administration cannot claim total credit for the law as it had been worked upon by the National Assembly. “If you look at the gestation period of Law making in both the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate, the credit must be given to the past administration for the idea of the student loan which have been passed by both tiers of the Legislative Arms before same was sent to the President for assent which President Tinubu just did”.
He therefore warned Nigerians to be alert against politicians who may want to turn the policy to a political tool of patronage for their cronies.
The Publicity Secretary of NLS, Bayo Akinlade also traced the history of student loans in Nigeria: “Student Loans are not a new concept. Our father’s before us enjoyed some form of loans which they paid back either directly or in service to their nation by working for the government for a period of time;
Our problem is not a lack of laws, we even have more than enough, we even have a bursary system that presumes that every student enjoys some form of scholarship from the government
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo SAN managed to establish free education and considering that Nigeria is still relatively under-educated, free Education should be the aim of this new administration considering the fact that with the removal of subsidy, the government should have enough to fund the education sector.
Unfortunately, the proceeds from the removal of subsidy may end up in the hands of the few, we cannot afford the ostrich game to continue!. The agony in the land is unimaginable”, he concluded.
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