Making The Student Loan Accessible For All Nigerians

The dream of pursuing higher education remains out of reach for many young Nigerians due to financial constraints.

However, the tide is about to turn with the Federal Government’s launch of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) this month.

As outlined by NELFUND’s Executive Secretary, Akintunde Sawyerr, to State House correspondents on Monday, the new education loan scheme aims to provide interest-free loans to accredited and qualified students, prioritizing support for the most economically disadvantaged.

The application process will be fully automated and technology-driven to limit human interface and reduce corruption risks.

This is a revolutionary step in expanding access to education in our country. For too long, brilliant young minds have been forced to give up on their academic dreams because their families simply could not afford the tuition fees.

Many others have struggled through school, often dropping out before completing their programs because funds ran out.

With NELFUND, the playing field is finally being leveled for all Nigerians, regardless of economic background.

The inclusive approach directed by President Bola Tinubu means that loans will be available not only for university education but also skill acquisition programs.

As the President rightly noted, not everyone aspires for white-collar professions. Many have talents better suited for technical trades and crafts. NELFUND will empower such young people to develop expertise in their preferred vocation.

The automation of the application process is another commendable aspect, as it minimizes red tape and discretionary abuse of funds.

Applicants will simply provide personal details like JAMB number, NIN, BVN, and institution information.

Once approved, the tuition fees will go directly to the school or training program. No middlemen, no corruption.

Funding should also not be a concern, according to FIRS Chairman Zacch Adedeji.

“Mr. President is permanently solving the problem of funding for education in Nigeria. By the directive of the President, the Education Tax Fund is being reviewed to additionally cater to the needs of our university students across all local government areas in the country as they seek to access vocational and traditional university education. Funding for the programme will be adequately covered,” he said.

With education tax being channeled into NELFUND, resources have been ringfenced to ensure the program’s sustainability. Kudos to the taxman for playing his part.

For far too long, Nigeria’s youth potential has been capped by lack of money.

We have lost count of young scholars who ended up hawking or engaged in crime simply because their families could not afford to keep them in school.

Many of our artisans today are not poorly trained by choice, but because apprenticeship programs that provide skills are out of their reach financially.

NELFUND has the potential to stem the horrific wastage of human capital that holds Nigeria back. With this program, every child can realistically dream that they too can become doctors, plumbers, accountants – whichever career resonates with their personal gifts.

To be sure, proper management will be key to avoiding abuse of the fund. But the safeguards instituted seem adequate. Technology will eliminate human interference, while direct transfers to institutions mean no diversion of funds. Proper documentation of applicants will also weed out ghost students.

As Nigerians, we must support NELFUND and protect it from corruption fangs that have bedeviled other well-intentioned government initiatives.

It remains our collective duty to report any observed irregularities in the program’s implementation. We must all work hand-in-hand to ensure its success.

The greatest asset of any nation is its human capital. For decades, Nigeria has neglected this precious resource due to lack of access to education and skills training. With NELFUND, we finally have a tool to systematically develop our youth, tapping into their potential regardless of economic class. It promises a brighter future, if we stay vigilant.

 

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