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The house of representatives has asked for the suspension of academic activities ahead of the elections.
The lower legislative chamber asked the regulatory bodies of tertiary institutions, the National Universities Commission, NUC, National Board for Technical Education, NABTEB, National Commission for Colleges of Education, NNCE, and the ministry of education to shutdown tertiary institutions to allow students travel to the areas where their polling units are located.
The National Electoral Commission, INEC, was also asked to make special arrangements for students to collect their PVCs.
It followed a motion which was sponsored by Kabir Ibrahim, a lawmaker representing Zuru/Fakai/Danko-Wasagu/Sakaba federal constituency of Kebbi. Ibrahim’s motion of urgent public importance was adopted and passed at the plenary session on Thursday.
According to Ibrahim, there are over 2.1 million students currently studying in universities, while more than 2.4 million study in polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education.
Ibrahim said the academic calendars of many 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 said, “This lack of flexibility makes it difficult for students to participate in the electoral process.”
The lawmaker said going by INEC figures, 3.8 million of the newly registered voters are students, accounting for 40.8 percent of the total number of newly registered voters.
He added, “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.
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“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.”
After a 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.