This disclosure was made by David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, during a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans.
Adejo also dispelled rumours that the signing of the Students Loan Act had prompted several federal universities to increase their charges.
He emphasized that President Bola Tinubu has directed the completion of necessary work on the modalities for the students’ loan implementation, with a target start date in September 2023.
Adejo further stated that the president has established a coordinating committee, with the Chief of Staff serving as the chairman, adding that the committee comprises key entities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Budget Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and others.
He noted that the committee has additionally established a technical team tasked with establishing a solid framework for initiating the program and addressing any legal obstacles that could hinder Nigerians’ access to the loan.
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While saying the recent increase in charges by federal universities in the country was unfortunate, Adejo explained that no federal University in the country was allowed to collect tuition fees from students.
He said, “What they collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the Universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.
“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the student loans act is the University of Lagos. They came to the Ministry with a proposal to Increase their charges because all Governing Councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.
“Immediately that was done, there was a resolution from the House stopping the increase of fees and the president also gave a directive stopping any increase in fees and that is where it is, even though several others have brought their proposal.
The permanent secretary further explained that the charges collected by the institutions are used by them to pay for some of their services, including electricity bills.
While justifying why the universities are demanding an increase in the charges they collect, he said that in spite of the charges, the universities have not been able to meet up with some of their expenses.
He said, “For example, we had to bail out Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with about N1 billion to pay its electricity bill. The school just resume academic sessions because they were in darkness.
“They were supposed to build theatres and we told them, you cannot build theatre when you are in the dark because you need power to operate.”
The director of Legal Services of the Central Bank of Nigeria who represented the Acting Governor of the Central Bank, Kofo Salami Alada said the student loan was being designed to be technology driven.
He said it was being designed in such a way that will eliminate physical contact and movement of papers, while the students will be expected to apply for the loan from the comfort of their homes.
He said they will work with the various tertiary institutions that will be assigned unique codes, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and other bodies involved in tertiary education in the country to make the process much easier.
He said the CBN will not be responsible for the funding of the exercise, adding that its responsibility will be the bankers to the fund as the funds will be provided solely by the government.
Alada, however, said that the technical committee was working on how to avoid a constitutional crisis later when states will go to court to challenge funds being drawn from the federation account to implement the scheme.