Ahead of the general elections, the house of representatives has called on the management of tertiary institutions in the country to suspend academic activities for students to exercise their franchise.
In the appeal made to National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NABTE), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), and the ministry of education, the lower chamber of the national assembly said suspension of academic activities will enable students to travel to the areas where their polling units are situated and also ensure they are disenfranchised.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also asked to make special arrangements for students to collect their PVCs.
The resolution was reached on Thursday, January 26, following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Kabir Ibrahim, a lawmaker representing Zuru/Fakai/Danko-Wasagu/Sakaba federal constituency of Kebbi.
Ibrahim who pointed out that there are over 2.1 million students in universities, and over 2.4 million students in polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education, noted that the academic calendars of various tertiary institutions “are structured in a way that most students are disenfranchised as school calendars do not take into consideration the timelines and date for elections”.
He also revealed that a report released by INEC shows that 3.8 million of the newly registered voters are students, accounting for 40.8 percent of the total number of newly registered voters.
“These students who constitute 40.8 percent of the newly registered voters, have their polling units sited in states outside their campuses, thereby necessitating travelling outside their respective institutions to vote in the 2023 elections.
“Tertiary institutions are not considering academic breaks for students during the general elections, despite knowing that most students registered outside their campuses during the continuous voter registration exercise, which took place during the prolonged Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), strike.
“INEC has devolved PVCs distributions at the registration areas and wards across the 774 local government offices throughout the federation.
“Distribution of PVCs at the wards has ended, and the exercise moved back to the local government/area council offices, thereby further limiting the chances of the students to collect their PVCs which is a precondition for voting at the polls.
“While the students are busy with academic activities, INEC is engaged in distributing PVCs at the wards across the 774 LGAs of the federation which deprives students of the opportunity to collect their PVCs.
“Tertiary institutions do not consider periods of elections in designing academic calendars, as most of them conduct semester examinations when the preparations for the general elections are almost completed or when the polls are going on, thereby disenfranchising the students from exercising their civic duties.”
Following the unanimous adoption of the motion, the house mandated committees on tertiary education and electoral matters to “liaise with the agencies to facilitate the process” and report back within one week.