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Officials diverted funds can fund education

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Student loan will deprive public universities of funds, directs them to private.

Public office holders in the country have been criticised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for their substantial diversion of funds. ASUU emphasises that the sum of these diverted funds is sufficient to cover the entire educational requirements of the nation, alleviating parents from any financial burden. The body claims that the Federal Government’s student loan program purposely aims to deprive public universities of funds and instead directs them towards private universities owned by politically influential individuals. They further assert that the suggested education loan scheme will trap students in unending indebtedness.

This was revealed in a statement that emerged after its National Executive Council assembly held at the Niger Delta University in Wilberforce Island in Bayelsa State. The association expressed its discontent with the information it had received regarding the unfulfilled commitments made by the administration led by Bola Tinubu. These promises were meant to tackle the enduring matters that compelled the union to initiate the nationwide strike from February to October of the year 2022.

Overwhelming burden placed on parents should be alleviated.

According to ASUU, the continuous stream of scandalous accounts regarding massive amounts of money being diverted from governmental treasuries at both the state and federal levels only strengthens their conviction that the funds available in the country are more than adequate to provide for university education subsidised by the government. This would alleviate the overwhelming burden currently placed on parents, as stated in the press release. ASUU maintained its stance on the matter, expressing concerns that global financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, advocated the Students Loan Scheme.

The program would have detrimental effects on the funding of public universities. Clarifying their position, the NEC of ASUU restated their firm refusal of the Students Loan Scheme, which is jointly endorsed by international money lending agencies It is crucial for Nigerians to recognise that this plan aims to deprive public universities of financial support. Furthermore, the NEC has noted that the students’ loan scheme will effectively place the entire university system as a mortgage, trapping brilliant students in never-ending cycles of debt.

Grants provisions and scholarships should be the major investment.

Even in more efficiently operated economies, there is no assurance of success for the scheme, considering the relentless corruption, favouritism, and various undesirable inclinations prevalent in Nigeria. These worse conditions were the undoing of the Education Bank project, resulting in its end after a span of more than five years. In order to truly show their commitment to Nigerian students, both the state and Federal Governments should consider providing grants and scholarships as an investment in their lives. Additionally, the university system would greatly benefit from the reinstatement of the Needs-Based Budgeting System, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

In the issued statement, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of ASUU, expressed strong disapproval towards the substantial increase in fees implemented by schools. He emphasised that the union firmly believes that funds diverted from government accounts ought to be channelled towards the financing of universities. Also, the National Executive Council (NEC) deeply condemns the indiscriminate surge in fees, acknowledging that the perspectives and concerns of those affected on campuses have been completely disregarded. The MoU of 2013 had promised a substantial sum of ₦1.3t over six years to revitalise several universities.

Related Article: Awaited student loan spike Nigerian concerns

If the federal government had honoured this commitment, these institutions would have been able to regain their former glory, draw in international students, and gain recognition for groundbreaking and transformative research. ASUU has dared the Tinubu administration to promptly undertake another needs assessment exercise in order to substantiate their demand for substantial intervention in public universities. ASUU claims that it was the Federal Government’s reaction to a similar challenge in 2012 that resulted in a total amount of ₦1.3 trillion, which the government has subsequently abolished.

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ASUU: Website

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