We can't force universities to close for elections - INEC
The commission said it doesn't wield any power to shut down schools for elections.
The commission emphasised that it doesn't have the constitutional power to compel schools to declare holidays for elections.
This was made known by Rotimi Oyekanmi, the media aide to the chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in an interview with Saturday Punch.
This comes amidst calls from Nigerians that tertiary institutions should declare public holidays in order to enable students to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and also vote in the forthcoming elections.
The call was also re-echoed on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday via a motion titled, ‘Urgent Need to Give the Students of Tertiary Institutions of Learning in Nigeria an Opportunity to Vote in the General Elections,’ moved by Hon. Kabir Tukura.
Tukura expressed worry that 3.8 million students who account for 40.8 per cent of the total number of newly registered voters are at risk of being disenfranchised.
He said various 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.”
INEC is helpless: However, Oyekanmi told Saturday Punch that the commission wields no power to dictate to varsities on how to run their calendar.
Oyekanmi's words: “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.”
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