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We Can’t Compel Varsities To Declare Holiday For Elections – INEC



We Can’t Compel Varsities To Declare Holiday For Elections – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it doesn’t have the power to compel universities to declare holidays in order to enable students to vote during the forthcoming general elections.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, the media aide to the chairman of the commission, stated this in an interview with Punch on Friday.

This is against the backdrop of calls from several quarters that universities should declares holidays for students to collect their Permanent Voter Cards and also vote in the coming polls.

A member of the House of Representatives, Kabir Tukura, had on Thursday moved a motion titled, ‘Urgent Need to Give the Students of Tertiary Institutions of Learning in Nigeria an Opportunity to Vote in the General Elections.’

“The House is further concerned that 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 strike.

“The House is cognisant that the INEC has enormous statutory powers to make special arrangements for students to collect their PVCs to vote. The NUC, NBTE, 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.”

However, INEC chairman’s media aide, Oyekanmi said it was beyond the Commission to dictate to varsities on how to run their calender.

He said, “Each university has a governing council that decides how the university should be run. I doubt it, although I stand to be corrected, if the National Universities Commission can indeed issue a directive to universities on when to go on holidays or operate.

“Don’t forget that we also have private and state universities that are not being funded by the Federal Government, although the NUC performs its oversight functions on their academic programmes, which are subjected to regular accreditation exercise.

“In the same manner, the Independent National Electoral Commission cannot compel any university to announce a holiday for election purposes. We don’t have such powers. This decision is best left to the governing council of the individual universities.”

Chairman, Committee of Vice Chancellor (CVC), Samuel Edoumiekumo, when contacted said neither the National Assembly, the National Universities Commission nor the CVC was empowered to dictate the tertiary institutions to go on holidays.

Edoumiekumo said the decision resides with Senate and Governing Council of individual higher institution.

He said, “This is not the first time election is taking place, they are not the ones to inform universities, universities have their respective governing councils and their senates; so individual universities will look at the scenarios within their universities and take appropriate decisions.”

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