House of Representatives, yesterday, urged the federal government to shutdown institutions of higher learning to enable the students collect their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs and vote during the general elections.
The House specifically urged the government to temporarily close down the school during the exercise.
The parliament made the call through the National Universities Commission, NUC, the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, the National Commission for Colleges of Education, NCCE and the Federal Ministry of Education.
The House also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make special arrangements for the students to collect their PVCs.
The resolutions followed the consideration of a motion at the plenary by Hon. Kabir Ibrahim.
Presenting the motion, Ibrahim noted that, according to available statistics, there were over 2.1 million students currently studying in Nigerian Universities, while over 2.4 million were students in Polytechnics,
Monotechnics and Colleges of Education across the country.
He also noted that academic calendars of various tertiary institutions were 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.
“3.8 million of the newly registered voters are students, accounting for 40.8 per cent of the total number of newly registered voters as stated by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the Commission’s 2022 third quarterly meeting with political parties in Abuja.
“These students who constitute 40.8 per cent of the newly registered voters, have their polling units sited in states outside their campuses, thereby necessitating traveling outside their respective institutions to vote in the 2023 elections.
“Tertiary institutions are not considering academic breaks for students during the general elections, despite having knowledge 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.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has devolved permanent voter cards (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, the Independent National Electoral Commission is engaged in distributing PVCs at the wards across the 774 Local Government Areas of the federation which deprives students of the opportunity to collect their PVCs”.
Ibrahim also expressed worry that the tertiary institutions did not consider periods of elections in designing academic calendars, as most of them conduct semester examinations when the preparations for the general elections were almost completed or when the polls are going on, thereby disenfranchising the students from exercising their civic duties.
“The INEC has enormous statutory powers to make special arrangements for students to collect their PVCs to vote.
“The National Universities Commission (NUC), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), and the Federal Ministry of Education, as the regulators of tertiary education in Nigeria, have the statutory powers to direct both the public and private tertiary education institutions in Nigeria to suspend academic activities pending the conclusion of the general elections”, he said.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Tertiary Education and Electoral Matters to liaise with the agencies to facilitate the process and report to back within one weeks