The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed concerns that the recently signed Student Loan Bill by President Bola Tinubu has the potential to force many students out of school, according to ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Osodeke highlighted that the law could have adverse effects on numerous prospective students who rely on tuition-free higher education to acquire knowledge.
Osodeke emphasized that introducing tuition fees in a country where over 133 million people live below the poverty line would be counterproductive.
He questioned the need for a bill that indicates loans for paying tuition fees when Nigerian universities currently do not charge tuition.
He also mentioned that the bill is not new, as the union previously rejected a similar proposal during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
However, ASUU has not yet obtained an accurate copy of the law signed by Tinubu and expressed the need to obtain and study it.
Osodeke recalled the union’s stance in 2017, stating that the proposal to charge each student one million naira in tuition fees was unacceptable and could not be included in their agreement.
Osodeke warned that if students whose parents cannot afford the fees are forced to withdraw from school, it could lead to societal unrest.
He emphasized the importance of obtaining correct information about the law before determining the union’s next steps.
He said, “A country where more than 133 million are living below the poverty line and you want to introduce tuition fees? It will be counterproductive.
“Every Nigerian should know what is going to happen next and there may likely be another bill waiting for signature that will introduce tuition fees.
“If the bill indicated that the loan is to pay tuition fees and there are no tuition fees in Nigerian universities, then what is your next approach?
“We have said long ago, in 2017, to President Buhari when they came up with the issue of tuition fees, that every student will pay N1 million and we said you cannot put that in our agreement and you cannot use that to negotiate with us and with the nature of the country we have today, there is no way that will work.”
“What will happen is that the majority of students whose parents cannot afford it will pull out of school in anger and you know what that means, they will fight the society back. But let us get the correct information first before knowing the next steps.”
As of now, the Federal Ministry of Education has not addressed the Student Loan Act. However, it is expected to hold a press conference to clarify the issues surrounding the new legislation.