The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has asked the House of Representatives to drop the Student’s Loan Bill currently before it, saying the bill is totally unnecessary.
The President of the union, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, gave this position in an exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune.
He said there was simply no basis for such a bill to have been introduced in the first instance in the House let alone members debating it to become a policy in a country as Nigeria with a high burden of graduates’ unemployment.
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, is the sponsor of the bill.
According to him, it is obvious that most graduates in the country, especially those from poor homes without connection to high profile persons in the society, don’t get a job many years even up to 10 or more years after graduation and let assume such a graduate has incurred a loan of up to N6 million or more while in school, how would he or she pay back such loan?
“And we should not also pretend not to know that such loan would have matured in about 10 years up to more than double of the principal amount and so if those students don’t get a job since getting a job is not an automatic thing, how would such a graduate pay back or his or her father, who is earning about N30,000 monthly as salary helps in paying back such a loan?
“So, I think we should all be realistic and not deceive ourselves any longer in Nigeria as this policy cannot work at least for now and also not in near future in our country,” he emphasised.
Commenting on government claims of lack of money to fund education well and that can warrant the introduction of high tuition fees in public tertiary schools, the ASUU boss said such a claim was nothing but deceptive.
According to him, it is not that there is no money in the treasury but the political leaders have misplaced priority in spending it.
He said what the political leaders across tiers lack is the political will to commit significant resources to the education sector and more so that majority of them have their children studying abroad or at worse in private schools in the country.
He said that was why their annual budgets on education over time have always been below 10 per cent of their respective budgets as they believe they have almost nothing to lose.
He said a way out of this scenario that would make the education sector stands out and performs its roles is for the government at all levels to fund education well by allocating a tangible percentage of their annual budgets that would up to 20 per cent or more to education.
He said that was how it is being done in developed countries and even in neighbouring Ghana.