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Politics

Student Loan, Plan To Enslave Nigerian Students — ASUU

Students Loan

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Calabar Zone, has voiced strong objections to the Federal Government’s new student loan initiative, labelling it a tactic to perpetually indebt Nigerian students.

This controversial stance was highlighted during a press conference held in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, on Monday.

The Zonal Chairperson of ASUU, Dr. Happiness Uduk, expressed the union’s concerns, asserting that the loan scheme is a strategic move to “enslave Nigerian youths.”

This criticism comes in the wake of the student loan portal’s launch last Friday, which saw an influx of applications from 3,764 students across 126 institutions on its first day.

The Federal Government has defended the loan program as a necessary measure to ensure that no Nigerian youth is deprived of higher education due to financial constraints.

However, ASUU’s leadership argues that the solution lies not in loans but in more direct support measures.

Dr. Uduk pointed out the irony in current policymakers, who themselves benefited from scholarships and bursaries in their student days, now endorsing a loan system for the new generation.

Furthering this point, ASUU’s National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has also been vocal in his opposition, suggesting that the government should revert to providing bursaries instead of loans.

Echoing these sentiments, Dr. Uduk, alongside eight other union chairpersons, signed a statement advocating for increased government subvention to higher institutions rather than burdening students with loans.

Uduk said, “It is disheartening that people who attended schools on scholarship, enjoyed meal subsidies, free laundry services, and bursary awards are the same running our economy today.

“Their children are on scholarship in the best foreign universities in the world but after siphoning our economy, they turn around to impose a strangulating education loan on taxpayers’ children who will be enslaved and remain indebted to the country forever. They do not mind the devastating effect of this scheme on the country, such as depression, suicide, and colossal loss of intellectuals.

“To this end, we vehemently condemn the idea of education loans and state clearly that using the money for intervention in higher institutions will bring about a positive turnaround of events that will make our institutions self-reliant with highly subsidised tertiary education in Nigeria.”

The ASUU chairperson called on the Federal Government to come to a renegotiation table and reconvene a committee to review the agreement reached by ASUU leadership and Prof. Nimi Brigs-led government committee with a view to adjusting the document according to the current economic realities so as to have acceptable salary structure for university lecturers.

She also condemned the indiscriminate proliferation of universities in Nigeria without adequate funding by both the federal and state governments, noting that the 2020 ASUU-FGN Memorandum of Action, which stressed the need to review the NUC Act to make it more potent in arresting the reckless and excessive establishment of universities, be fully implemented.

She said, “We urge the President Tinubu-led administration to refrain from further proliferation of universities and rather consolidate on the already existing ones. What we need are universities that are adequately equipped and empowered to address the challenges confronting Nigeria not glorified schools.”

On the ongoing minimum wage negotiation, the ASUU Calabar Zone urged the FG to immediately deploy the instrumentality of collective bargaining to conclude the social dialogue, saying such would lessen the invasive decline in the socio-economic lives of Nigerians.

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