A day after signing into law a bill providing interest-free loans to Nigerians willing to acquire tertiary education but unable to afford fees, President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday met with the leadership of various Nigerian student bodies.
In a tweet via the President’s Twitter handle- @OfficialABAT, Mr Tinubu described the meeting with the student leaders as invigorating, noting that they welcomed the new law and that his administration’s “proactive approach to the fuel subsidy issue was welcome.”
Mr Tinubu assented to the Access to Higher Education Act (2023), providing legal backing for the Education Loan Fund, which would provide “students with loans to pay tuition in public tertiary institutions.”
The bill has previously met stiff opposition from student bodies such as the National Association of Nigerian Students and workers’ unions, who described it as an attempt by the government “to wash its hands off the funding of the university.”
Tertiary education in Nigeria is primarily subsidised depending on the government’s handout to continue running effectively.
For years, the inadequate funding by the government has caused disagreement between workers’ unions and the government, resulting in industrial unrest.
Stakeholders have cited the industrial crises across many campuses as reasons for the poor ranking of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions globally.
On Tuesday, Mr Tinubu received the representatives of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the National Association of University Students (NAUS), the National Association of Colleges of Education Students (NACES) and the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) at the Presidential villa.
“This afternoon, I enjoyed an invigorating meeting with the leadership of a few of the most prominent national student bodies in the country. Representatives of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the National Association of University Students (NAUS), the National Association of Colleges of Education Students (NACES) and the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) were in attendance,” he wrote.
“Their support of the Access to Higher Education Act as well as this government’s proactive approach to the fuel subsidy issue, was most welcome.”
The President also said his government will prioritise youth empowerment and social justice through meaningful inclusion in governance.
He also promised affordable access to quality education and the creation of gainful opportunities across all sectors of the economy.