The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) expressed its support for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) by stating that implementing the Students’ Loan Act would contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.
HURIWA, represented by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, raised concerns about the feasibility of expecting students from households of 130 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty to repay study loans after graduation, especially considering the high unemployment rate of over 33 percent in the country.
HURIWA called upon Tinubu to consider transforming the loans into grants for financially disadvantaged students, emphasizing that the loan system would not be viable in the long run.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “From the hurried passage of the Bill by then-Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila-led 9th House of Representatives just weeks ago and signing of the Bill into law by President Bola Tinubu, the whole Student Loans Act is a document devised to impoverish and gag the poor.
“HURIWA rejects this Act and everything in it. It’s a gimmick to hike school fees for millions of poor children attending public universities.
“Once this is achieved, millions of students who would graduate and can’t find jobs either in the public or private sectors and can’t have access to their certificates due to indebtedness will suffer depression, suicide, frustration, and disappointments as is the case in first-world countries.
“There are critical questions begging for answers in this whole arrangement, including: why are the politicians not sending their own kids to the same public schools on loan facilities?
“In Western societies where youth unemployment is below the double digits, students who take student loans are guaranteed quicker absorption into the public and private workforce to be able to defray these loans, but this is not the same with us.
“The Federal Government should fulfill her responsibilities to elevate the standards of facilities in these schools, encourage the schools to commercialize their research and go into other commercial ventures so the funding components from the government can gradually go down but without affecting the financial implications for students in terms of tuitions.”