Following the mandatory closure of universities across the nation to enable students to participate in the 2023 elections ordered by the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC) on Thursday, stakeholders of tertiary institutions have reacted to the given order.
The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in an interview with The Punch criticised the mandate directed to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), noting that the closure and opening of universities were the precedences of each university's Senate.
Osodeke added that universities and polytechnics had never been closed due to elections.
“Vice-Chancellors do not have the right to close universities. It is purely the prerogative of the universities’ Senates to either open or close universities.
“Things have gone so bad in this country that they are citing security and for this reason, we, as a union, had to look on.
"In all the past elections, have we ever closed the universities, polytechnics? So, what has gone wrong? Why the desperation? Why are they punishing Nigerians?
"We need to ask Nigerian leaders questions because we are trying to meet up with lost time and here you are shutting down universities,” Osodeke said.
Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, the Secretary-General of the CVCNU however disagreed with the ASUU President, maintaining universities had always been shut down during elections.
He said: “It is nothing new, most public universities get closed during elections because many of them housed polling units and universities and their communities always vote on campuses.
“Two reasons why universities are shut down during elections are so as not to disenfranchise the people and to give opportunity to those who registered away from the university to be able to vote. It is something universities have been doing as far as I can remember; so this is not new.
“The directive is coming from our regulatory body, NUC; it is for universities to see how they can manage it and it is the VCs that will internalise it.”
On his part, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Anderson Ezeibe, said the regulatory body of polytechnics, the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) was yet to give any directive in this regard.
He however agreed with Osodeke on the Senates of institutions deciding on the opening and closure of institutions.
“We are waiting for our regulatory body but they have not made any pronouncement. For NUC, they cited security and they are in the best position to tell us the security information they have.
"But I still hold the view that the Senates of the universities are to take the decision of closure or no closure, not NUC,” Ezeibe noted.
The President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Usman Barambu, on his part, described the directive as "a product of our efforts".
“That directive is a product of our efforts. We met with the Minister of Education when the speculations were spreading that schools would be opened during the election period.
"The minister assured us that schools would not be opened and told us that directives would be issued to relevant agencies," he said.
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