By Terese Tse
The NUC order for closure of schools during the upcoming elections is a welcome development. The closure would be a great advantage to the staff, students and parents. It will create room for both the academic and non-academic to have enough time to go for elections and also participate in the elections as INEC ad-hoc staff. The students too would have ample opportunity to go home and vote especially those who registered at their villages. And in an event there is crises, though we are not praying for that during the elections, the students would not be in school to be easily mobilised for trouble. So parents too would be more comfortable when their children are at home with them during the election. So I passionately appeal to the teeming youths of this country, particularly students not to allow themselves to be lured into acts capable of jeopardizing the electoral process such as violence, thuggery, ballot snatching and the likes. They should conduct themselves orderly before, during and after elections.
Prof. Sarwuan Daniel Shishima (Benue State University, Makurdi)
The order to close universities and other tertiary institutions for the 2023 general election should not be seen as a strange practice in Nigeria as INEC also deploys University professors to conduct elections across the country. Voting is a fundamental right and even though it’s not captured anywhere in Nigeria’s constitution, it is an essential exercise which every citizen is supposed to be part of.
Apart from that, university lecturers and the students need time to go back to their places they registered to be able to express their views, for them to be able to say who should represent them at different levels of government.
In addition, students make up the largest population of this country and, therefore, cannot be ignored in the coming election. The government must ensure they are not disenfranchised. The students make up 40 per cent of our population and should be given the opportunity to participate in the 2013 general elections. Nigeria is in a critical situation that it must have to be rescued by every well-meaning citizen.
Alberts Hemense Kuhe (Public Affairs Analyst)
It is no longer news that the 2023 general elections have been scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023, and March 11, 2023 respectively. The National Universities Commission (NUC) has therefore asked all universities across Nigeria to suspend academic activities between February 22 and March 14, 2023. According to the Commission, this directive is to not enable staff and students to take part in the elections and also due to concerns on security.
This directive is coming when most universities in the country are trying to make up for the time lost due to the prolonged ASUU strike. As such, some universities may find it difficult to abide by this directive.
In my personal opinion, the NUC directive is justifiable. There is no sacrifice that is too much to make for the security of lives and property. The suspension of lectures will enable academic staff and students to fully take part in both the national and state elections and return to their various homes for security reasons. The security situation in the country is becoming more volatile.
Dr. Peter Azende (University Lecturer)
The closure might disrupt research activities and that may compromise the quality of the outputs. We have had elections in the past but such breaks were not observed as far back as I can remember. Recall during the 2015 elections, the federal government directed that all public, private basic and tertiary institutions should remain open, with full academic activities throughout the period of the 2015 polls. The then Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau said the directive become imperative in view of the fact that elections would be held only at weekends. University education should not be reduced to the teaching aspect alone. The other aspects which involve research and community development should also be accorded priority attention. Most of the institutions are already in their mid semesters and are struggling to catch up with the loses from the protracted strike so in my view, security at the polling units should be intensified to safeguard properties instead.
Dr. Terver Sase (Lecturer)
he decision was taken following the appeal of some Nigerians and political parties to federal government to close schools to enable students of voting age perform their civic responsibilities in this year’s elections and NUC heeded the call as revealed in a letter addressed to the vice chancellors of all universities and directors of inter-university centres. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu after extensive consultations with relevant security agencies directed suspension of academic activities. This is also significant because the data from Independent National Electoral Commission reveals that over 26 million students are currently registered. So besides the issue of security, youth participation in democratic processes overall and in elections to be specific is very important. I therefore, commend the federal government and NUC for recognizing that effective participation of youth in politics is critical to democratic development in our society.
Japhet Saater Tyonum (Pubic Servant)
There is no debate about whether NUC has oversight function on all the universities in Nigeria or not. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, it is within the purview of NUC to issue directives to universities. I can see the recent directive by NUC as being right and lawful.
However, I distance myself from the instant case because of the reasons stated for closing the universities. Under no circumstance should the universities be closed except when there is an outbreak of war or a pandemic. In the case of an outbreak of war or a pandemic, it is expected that doing so would help to save lives. Elections are not a good justification to close a university, let alone all universities across the country.
In this circumstance, what can be done, in my opinion, is that universities through their Senates can direct for lectures to be suspended during the period of the elections to enable students who registered to go and cast their votes. It would be an abnormality to have the universities closed over elections matters.
Dr. Terkula Maga (University Don)