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    Friday, February 16, 2024

    Students' Loan Scheme: NANS Disagrees with Assertion by ASUU

    The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)  have disagreed with the assertion by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that Federal Government’s student loan scheme would keep the beneficiaries perpetually indebted.

    ASUU  had also argued after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa that the initiative would not allow universities to have enough funds to function effectively.

    But NANS  said that contrary to ASUU’s assertions, the scheme represents a ray of hope for many students, especially those facing financial hardship.

    It therefore advised the umbrella boy of university teachers not to interfere in the implementation of the scheme that would provide a ‘nobody’ access to higher education.

    “If ASUU has any genuine concerns or reservations about the programme,  it should address them openly and transparently. It is time for ASUU to prioritise the interests of students and support initiatives that will benefit the entire student community,”  NANS Senate President   Akinteye  Babatunde, told The Nation yesterday.

    Babatunde said it was disheartening for ASUU  to oppose a programme dedicated to providing much-needed relief to countless students.

    “ASUU’s attempts to speak on behalf of students regarding the Student Loan Programme are unwarranted and unacceptable. Students are perfectly capable of voicing their own opinions and advocating for their own interests. ASUU should not speak for students without consulting them directly,”  he added.

    ASUU had after its  NEC meeting said it was sceptical of the loan scheme because similar ones in better-managed economies failed.

    It wondered why the initiative would succeed in a clime where corruption, nepotism and other unsavoury tendencies killed the Education Bank project after over five years of its existence.

    The union stressed that if state and federal governments truly wanted to invest in the lives of Nigerian students, grants and scholarships should be made available to them while the Needs-Based Budgeting System should be restored to the university system for greater efficiency.

    ASUS also decried the dissolution of the governing councils of federal universities, saying it was dismayed by the continued attacks and erosion of the autonomy of public universities.

    It said: “Vice-chancellors, in connivance with the federal and state ministries of Education are illegally running the universities.

    “They have taken over the functions of the council through illegal contract awards, approval of promotions, and recruitments without following due process. NEC condemns these anomalies in strong terms. It calls on state and federal governments to reverse themselves where governing councils were dissolved without serving their terms and reconstitute councils whose tenures have expired.

    “Vice-chancellors are also strongly advised to stop taking matters meant for councils to the ministries or commissioners for approval; this has great consequences for the future of the universities.”

    The union urged the federal and state governments to, as a matter of urgency, release all the withheld salaries and third-party deductions of academics to restore their fading hope in the university system and Nigeria as a country.

    It warned that to continue to ignore ASUU’s formal and informal demands in this respect is to invite an avoidable industrial crisis in the system.

    “NEC condemns in its entirety the wave of fee hikes without inputs of the victims across our campuses. Daily scandalous reports of stupendous funds diverted from government treasuries at state and Federal levels reinforce our belief that resources available to the country could support government-funded university education –without excessive pressures on parents as currently done,” ASUU added.

    The union said that if the Federal Government had kept fate with its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013, which provided for N1.3 trillion over six years, many universities would have been restored to a level at which they could attract foreign students and become renowned for cutting-edge and transformative research.

    It urged the    Tinubu administration to urgently initiate moves to conduct another needs assessment to empirically verify the call for massive intervention in public universities.

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