From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Executive Secretary of Bayelsa State Higher Education Students Loan Board, Dr Michael Amaegberi, has disclosed that the state government has spent over N900million as loans to pay school fees of Bayelsans in the last two years.
Amaegberi who stated this in an interview on the activities of the board said more than 4000 Bayelsans have also benefitted from the scheme.
According to him, the loan scheme is better than bursary payment because of its impact on the advancement of the education of Bayelsans.
He said the loan scheme is a novel idea which other state governments in Nigeria desirous of improving the educational pursuits of its people should emulate.
‘We have given loans to more than 4000 students and still counting. From last year when we started till now we have spent more than N900 million paying school fees for students. This is a great feat that any government can achieve. Those calling for bursary payment don’t know what they are saying. If the government spends N200 million on bursaries and gives 10,000 students, that is about N20,000 each, people would go home happy that they have received N20,000, which is free money. But here is a government that is paying school fees. If the school fees are N200,000 we are paying if it is N300,000 we are paying, N150,000, N80,000, etc, we are paying depending on the programme. If it is medicine, education or other disciplines we pay. We even extended it to Masters and PhD students. This is a novel idea that other states should emulate. You can find this anywhere in Nigeria. All those cynical about what we are doing and are just criticising our achievements in the education sector, should come up with better ideas and not criticising genuine government policies.’
Amaegberi who further disclosed that the loan scheme also covers ANAN, ICAN and other professional exams commended the administration of former governor Henry Seriake Dickson for initiating the programme and Governor Douye Diri for sustaining the programme.
‘I believe people should applaud what the Prosperity Government is doing and for following through the entire process by ensuring the loan board continue to stay afloat. It did not start with Governor Douye Diri but he saw it as a very good idea and has kept to his promise to continue to fund the Loans Board according to law and he has been doing that judiciously. So people should applaud the Restoration government first for starting it, then the Prosperity Government for continuing with this laudable scheme.’
While noting that the scheme has limited funds to attend to Bayelsans studying in universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, he said the Board is exploring ways the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and oil companies can partner with the board to help Bayelsans.