National Assembly considers students’ loan bill
Gbajabiamila canvasses better education for political office-seekers
To address issues of funding and tuition in the country’s tertiary institutions, the House of Representatives has begun deliberations on a legislative framework for funding tertiary education through student loans.
Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while delivering the 52nd convocation lecture of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), yesterday, said the bill would provide funding for all qualified students, so that the burden of school fees and living expenses could be deferred and paid over a period.
Sponsored by the Speaker, the bill entitled ‘Students Loan (Access to higher Education Bill)’ is to provide interest-free loans to students, while repayment commences two years after the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Gbajabiamila, in his lecture entitled ‘Building Back Better: Creating a New Framework for Tertiary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century,’ also tasked the institutions on sustainable reform, which must come from within.
The lawmaker noted that beyond issues of finance, curriculum, technology and teaching methods, there is a fundamental issue of fairness, which institutions must address to be globally relevant.
He said: “We have a problem with harassment and victimisation in our higher institutions. This is not a problem of a few bad apples spoiling the whole bunch; it is the consequence of weak institutional mechanisms, susceptible to egregious abuse by those for whom power is not a call to service but an opportunity to take more than they are entitled to and sacrifice the future of others on the altar of their own desires.”
The nation’s universities must be places of learning and innovation, where people feel safe and injustice has no place, he maintained, stressing the need for the National Assembly to amend section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution, which centres on minimum educational qualification for persons seeking elective positions.
According to him, the current minimum requirement of secondary school certificate or its equivalent for persons aspiring to be president and other top offices, including National Assembly, should be reviewed.
The Speaker decried the inability of the Nigerian government to adopt measures that will improve the education and skills acquisition system in the country, to meet up with global challenges
Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), Amina Augie, who chaired the event, harped on education as the key to national development.