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NELFUND: What Adeleke Did Not Say By Sarafa Ibrahim



NELFUND: What Adeleke Did Not Say By Sarafa Ibrahim

I have come across a sickening and outright disingenuous attempt by the opposition in Osun state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to misrepresent what Governor Ademola Adeleke said when he received the management team of Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) in his office on Tuesday. The APC, in its usual mischievous manner, tried to present Governor Adeleke as opposed to the application of the student loan scheme, shamelessly insinuating that the Governor tried to frustrate the integration of students from the state’s owned institutions.

What did Governor Adeleke say? Apparently drawing the attention of the NELFUND to the lesson of the operation of a similar scheme in the United States of America, Governor Adeleke urged that “We (Nigeria) must as a nation avoid a similar debt trap. As we have the grace to understudy other nations operating similar funds, we must avoid the pitfalls. Our new system must integrate mechanisms to prevent similar experiences like what is happening in the US.”

The essence of a leader, anywhere, is to have the interest of the people in anything. This was exactly what Governor Adeleke manifested in his admonition to the NELFUND, which was to make sure that the good gesture of President Bola Tinubu in making tertiary education accessible to all does not turn around to hurt beneficiaries on the long run.

The truth, which no one can deny, is that tertiary education is becoming out of reach to many Nigerians due to funds, and the introduction of the NELFUND to bridge the gap is a welcome development. Governor Adeleke made this clear when he noted that “As a government, we see the Fund as a veritable platform to provide a lifeline for many indigent students in our various schools. The initiative promises to remove the pain and hardship experienced by many brilliant students in the area of funding.”

It is clear from the above statement that Governor Adeleke supports the initiative as against the erroneous postulation of the Osun APC. This, perhaps, explains why Osun state has the highest number of student data on NELFUND, which Mr. Akintunde Sawyer, the Managing Director and the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, said demonstrated the Governor’s (Adeleke) proactiveness to NELFUND’s request and as such, unprecedented.

According to Mr. Sawyer, “I can tell you today that Osun state has the highest amount of data in our database today. What that means is that if all the eligible students in Nigeria decided to apply for the loan, Osun state will have the highest number of beneficiaries.” By Mr. Sawyer’s words, it is clear that Osun state not only embraced the opportunity that the fund presents to indigent students but ready to maximise it.

It therefore does not make sense for the Osun APC and its hirelings to suggest that Governor Adeleke is trying to frustrate the integration of students from the state’s institution when the disclosure of the Fund and available data showed that the state has the most enrollees. If anything, the APC has once again shown its lack of concern for citizens, most especially young people, who Governor Adeleke hopes the scheme is structured to avert a future burden on beneficiaries.

Anyone who has followed the challenges facing beneficiaries of students loan in the US will understand the admonition of Governor Adeleke. But typical of the Osun APC, it is just about reaching for power without any iota of consideration for the impact on the people. Otherwise, it would not have reduced a sincere admonition of the Governor to its usual petty politics.

I believe that politics should reflect a true sense of interest in the good of the people. Unfortunately in Osun, the APC’s distasteful posture continues to remind us of its demeaning approach to what touches on the people throughout its twelve years in the administration of the state. In this case, the Osun APC was only trying to play politics, and worse, a ridiculous one by ignoring the core message of Governor Adeleke, which canvasses for the Fund to be a lot better than those experienced in other climes.

So, how is this well-intended urge a bad thing as the APC have tried so hard to paint? The simple truth which can no longer be ignored is that Osun APC is losing it to desperation for power grab even though, as we can tell from the past, it has no real bearing on the people.

Nowhere did Governor Adeleke antagonised the student loan scheme not to talk of frustrating Osun students from benefiting. In fact, it is too pedestrian for the APC to resort to such a narrative because data from the NELFUND put Osun as having the highest state institutions already captured by the Fund. It was that commendable feat that prompted the management of the NELFUND to bestow on Governor Adeleke an award as a recognition of the State Government’s responsiveness to the scheme.

This is why it is amusing to see the Osun APC who failed so badly in serving the interest of the people resort to twisting what Governor Adeleke said to warm itself in the mind of the people. It is a clear acceptance that it failed and has nothing to sway the people to its side except it could create a wedge between the Governor and the good people of Osun. But it is bound to fail as Osun people are very smart and will never return to those who deprived them of meaningful progress and improved living conditions when they have a government in Governor Adeleke who makes their interests a top priority.

• Sarafa Ibrahim is a Special Assistant to the Osun State Governor and writes from Osogbo.

Disclaimer: This piece represents the opinion of writer not that of CityMirrorNews