Upon assuming office, the Buhari-led administration pulled funding for many government scholarships and bursaries leaving many students distraught and unable to complete their studies. In 2017, the President of The Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, on the sidelines of the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, met with Nigerian students in Russia to hear first-hand the plight of those whose scholarship funding had dried up. Most of them felt abandoned by Nigerian authorities and had become stranded; barely able to make ends meet.
Speaking with them, Dr Saraki noted that the feeling of abandonment must be quickly dissipated by working urgently to alleviate the difficulties faced by these students. According to him “we must look for ways to reestablish the pipelines and remove the bottlenecks, so that our students who went abroad with the promise and assurance of scholarship funding, will get their stipends as at when due” .
Back here in Nigeria, parents and guardians find that they cannot rely on government awarding scholarships or bursaries to students of public tertiary institutions as a means of supporting the education of their wards. It has become critical to come up with solutions to the problems of financial aid being faced by Nigerian students both locally and internationally.
It was in response to this that Senator Isah Misau (Bauchi Central) sponsored the Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill. The Bill seeks to provide for the granting of loans to eligible students at higher institutions and repeal the provisions of the Nigerian Education Bank Act 2004.
The Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill went for the first reading in the National Assembly on the 20th of October, 2015 and second reading on the 15th of November, 2017. Lending support to the bill, Senator Sam Egwu (Ebonyi South) recalled that he benefited from scholarship in the old Anambra state and that the scheme would help indigent students studying in higher institutions.
The function of the bill shall be to:
– Maintain and analyze a database and undertake research for the better utilization of financial resources
The power of the scheme includes the power to:
– Promote and control staff as may appear to the scheme necessary and expedient
The Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill shall maintain a fund which will consist of:
– Money appropriated by the National Assembly
The Bill as of now has been referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.