• Says it will further impoverish Nigerians
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, urged the Federal Government to convert the newly approved student loans to grants.
The group alleged that the recently assented Student Loan Act was a gimmick to hike school fees for millions of poor children, and further impoverish them.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the civil rights advocacy group wondered how President Bola Tinubu’s administration expects students from 130 million multi-dimensionally poor Nigerian homes to pay back the loans after graduation when unemployment rate in the country is at over 33 per cent.
The group expressed support for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which urged the President to convert the loans to grants for indigent students, saying that it is not sustainable.
HURIWA noted that most students in public tertiary institutions wouldn’t meet the stringent requirements to access and repay the loan.
Some of the requirements, which the group alluded to, are that they must have senior civil servants, who would stand for them as guarantors, and that they would be jailed if they failed to repay after two or so years upon graduation.
According to the group, from the hurried passage of the bill by former Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila-led 9th House of Representatives weeks ago, and its being signed into law by Tinubu, the whole Student Loan Act is devised to impoverish and gag the poor all the more.
It added: “HURIWA rejects this Act and everything in it. It’s a gimmick to hike school fees for millions of poor children attending public universities, because government plans to divest its investments from public schools. That is why it worked out this tricky loan scheme with stringent conditions.
“Once this is achieved, millions of students, who would graduate and can’t find jobs either in the public or private sector, and can’t have access to their certificates due to indebtedness, would suffer depression, suicide, frustration and disappointments as is the case in first-world countries.
“The critical questions begging for answers in this whole arrangement are: why are politicians not sending their own wards to the same public schools on loan facilities?
“In western societies where youth unemployment is below double digits, students, who take loans, are guaranteed quicker absorption into the public and private workforce to defray these loans; but this is not the same with us.”