Students’ Loans Scheme: Another  Policy to Plunge Nigerians Into More Hardship

Being a press statement issued by the Socialist Youth League, 5 April 2024


Socialist Youth League vehemently opposes the Students’ loan reenactment bill signed into law by President Tinubu. While some of the most glaring criticisms of the former Act have been addressed, the re-enacted bill signed into law, even with the amendments, does not solve the fundamental problems bedevilling the Nigerian education system – which is majorly the deliberate underfunding of education.

This gross underfunding of education is evident given that no presidential administration in the fourth republic has ever met the 15% to 20% budgetary allocation recommended by UNESCO for member nations. Unsurprisingly, the Tinubu administration has continued the trend by allocating less than half of the minimum 15% in the 2024 national budget. This is very worrying given the capacity of education for social transformation and economic development.

The SYL has done extensive work to bring the attention of the public to this dubious loans Act being heralded by the Tinubu regime as the solution to the woes of public education in Nigeria. But the federal government has remained adamant in the utility of the scheme as a means to abdicate its constitutional responsibility to fund public education.

The SYL also remains fervently opposed to the loan scheme as an alternative means to the state funding public education. Policies like the ill-conceived scheme are based on the principles of neoliberal capitalism which benefit only a handful of the population. 

The Tinubu APC regime wilfully serves the interests of capital by cutting down state spending on social services such as education in a bid to attract foreign investment. Neoliberalism as the financialised form of capital, weaponises debt to undermine the sovereignty of nations against fulfilling the primary duty of government to provide for the welfare of the citizens.

Neoliberal policies like the removal of fuel subsidy and naira devaluation are conditionalities of the IMF and World Bank that impose the privatisation of public assets and a rollback on public services. These are policies that have wreaked socio-economic havoc on the poor and working people in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the weak President Tinubu does not have any compunctions in playing a subservient role to the Bretton Woods institutions because such policies are a means for the corrupt ruling elite to feed their insatiable greed at the detriment of the masses

The students’ loans scheme is based on the false premise that Nigeria is too poor to fund public education, but the country is never too poor to fund and subsidise the superfluous lifestyle of the corrupt political elite who appropriate the commonwealth of the nation for their profligacies. Education is and must continue to be a right protected by the government to attain the development we require as a people. Rather than burdening students with debt peonage – through the Loans Act – in addition to the socio-economic hardship, the government is supposed to make education free and accessible, so that children of poor working people can get quality education to and the skills required to contribute to nation building and social transformation.

While concessions have been won from the first round of resistance to the Loans Act, and we do commend the efforts of students and other patriotic citizens that forced the government to repeal and make amendments to the original Act, we want to point out that eternal vigilance is the price we have to pay for liberty. We must not relent in pushing for an absolute repeal of the Students’ Loans Act in order to secure our future and that of the coming generations! 

It is on this note that the SYL continues to call on Nigerian students, working class organisations including trade unions, and other patriotic citizens to join in the struggle for adequate funding of education against the renewed neoliberal shege being meted on students and education workers alike. We also call for a united campaign against all anti-people policies of the Neoliberal regime of President Tinubu. Dare to strugge, dare to win!

kaleb UTANGE

National Coordinator, SYL

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