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Reps summon permanent secretary to address student loan

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The House of Representatives has taken a significant step by summoning Andrew Adejo, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, to present himself before the subcommittee focused on Student Loan and Higher Education.

The purpose of this invitation was to elicit comprehensive information on the actions and strategies deployed by the Ministry and the Presidential Committee on Student Loans in the execution of the Student Loan Act.

Members of the legislative body have articulated that the outcome of this interaction will furnish the committee with essential insights, thereby enabling them to proceed with a summit dedicated to deliberating on the tenets of the aforementioned Act.

At the heart of this summit lies the intention to solicit input from pertinent stakeholders spanning various domains.

The avenue for input provision will be through the submission of memoranda, which will subsequently culminate in the formulation of amendments to enhance the proposed Act, all with the primary aim of benefiting students.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Tersee Ugboh, raised concerns over the potential consequences of noncompliance, highlighting its potential to introduce discord between the legislative and executive branches of the government.

Rep. Ugboh stated the historical context by stating, “It happened before and it led to a lot of disharmony between the leadership and the working relationship between the Executive arm of Government and the Legislature.”

Drawing attention to the commitment shown by the current administration towards education-related matters, he emphasised the anticipation of substantive insights from the Federal Ministry of Education.

Ugboh stated, “So with that being said, the committee will go ahead and fix a date for the summit that we are proposing and will begin to work towards convening the summit where all stakeholders in the country will be invited to make proposals and amendments to the act.”

In an earlier statement, Enonebi Azorbo, the Director of Legal Services from the Ministry of Education, conveyed the ministry’s determination to marshal all available resources to eliminate impediments in the seamless implementation of the Students Loans Act.

Azorbo detailed the formation of a committee, spearheaded by Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to the President, which was inaugurated in June.

This committee has been dedicated to formulating the modalities requisite for the effective implementation of the Act.

Azorbo clarified, “I will like to say that upon the passage of the act, Mr. President set up a command. It is housed in the office of the Chief of Staff to the President and they are working on modalities on the implementation.” The membership of this committee comprises esteemed individuals such as the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director-General of the Budget Office, and the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Education and Finance.

Azorbo, when queried about the progress of the committee’s work, maintained that her knowledge was limited to her previous statement.

She elucidated, “That is really what we have to say, the committee is working and it has not concluded its job. We don’t have anything to say more than that it is working and we can’t preempt what it is doing.”

However, Ugboh expressed concerns, citing the president’s assertion that he was committed to dismantling all barriers to accessing student loans for Nigerian students.

He stressed, “This is important to note because the Act puts limitations on accessing these loans, the act puts barriers and limits to accessing the loans by parents of the children who should access the loan limit of N500,000 income for families.”

It is noteworthy that President Bola Tinubu, in a recent broadcast, conveyed his intent to remove all hindrances impeding the implementation of the Students’ loan programme.

Consequently, the House of Representatives is actively exploring legislative measures to facilitate the expeditious realization of this commitment.

The permanent secretary’s appearance is slated for Tuesday, August 15th, 2023.

This engagement is anticipated to offer valuable insights into the government’s approach to the crucial matter of student loans and higher education financing.

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