By Chidera Eke, News/Interviews, February 9, 2023
As Nigeria go into the general election two weeks from now, concerned Nigerians have called for the closure of Higher Institutions across the country to enable students travel to their various locations to exercise their franchise especially University students who were at home for the eight months Academia Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike, as it is believed that most of them registered at home during the strike. Meanwhile, speaking with our Correspondent on a telephone on the issue, is the National President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, (ASUP) ,Comrade Anderson Ezeibe, who was of the view that, if there are parameters to measure the proportion of students who registered outside their campuses during the eight months strike, then, there could be some element of consideration, even as he argued that, most Universities, states and privates, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education were not on strike, and so, there are no basis of closing Higher Institutions for the general election.
“Polytechnics does not belong to ASUP, and also, University does not belong to ASUU, yes they don’t .They don’t belong to the Unions. The unions are not part of the administration of the institution. So it is not in the place of the Unions to close Institutions for any reason. Even when we are on strike, we don’t close institutions. What we do is to withdraw our services”
Ezeibe however said that, it is important to establish numbers of registered students by INEC before talking about nationwide closure of national institutions if it is actually the fact that a greater majority of the students who are eligible to vote will not be able to vote in their places of registration during the strike. Continuing, he said, one also need to establish the fact that the registrations the students did in places or locations were outside or other than the campuses of their institutions, therefore, it would be wrong to assume that because some institutions were closed during the long strike of ASUU and the affected students registered to vote in different locations other than those campuses, so, Schools should be close for them to travel to vote. According to Ezeibe, It may be misleading to think in that direction of shutting down Schools because he knows that even during the strike, not all the institutions were closed, as private institutions were not on strike including states Universities. Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. “So, it is not a harmonious thing and within the strike. Also it is not all the students that went home to registered in other places . That’s why I said that it will be important to get the proportion of students who registered outside their campuses or back in their location? That is the only thing that can justify a mass closure, a blanket closure of all institutions that you we can say, go home and do the voting”.
The ASUP president refuted the notion that, if students are not asked to go home, it means denial of their right to vote. “Because you are talking about fundamental human right now, nobody has stopped anybody fundamental rights. I mean, even if the schools are not closed, the rights of the students to vote has not been taken away from them, they can travel since the election is always on Saturdays. Of course it’s going to be inconveniencing but even at that, it doesn’t mean that their rights have been taken away from them”
The only way if Institutions are to close is, if the governing councils and management of Institutions agree, then, it can close but I don’t see any parameter of closing Institutions for election’s sake, he added.
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