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2023 Polls: Again, Universities to Go On 3-Week Compulsory Break

All Universities in Nigeria have been directed to shut down their operations from February 22 to March 14, 2023.

In a circular dated February 3, 2023 sent to all university Vice-Chancellors by the sector regulator, National Universities Commission (NUC), they were all directed to vacate their campuses for the period of the election.

This is seen in many quarters as one break too many considering the disruptions within the sector in recent times. It is noteworthy that even up till now the dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has not been fully resolved. The Union has been holding a series of meetings to determine how to ensure that their outstanding sallies are pad.   

The circular titled” Ministerial Directive on the Closure of all Universities and Inter-university Centres During the Upcoming 2023 General Elections” was signed by the Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of Administration, Mr. Chris Maiyaki. 

It stated: “As Vice-Chancellors of all Universities and Director/Chief Executive of Inter-University Centres are quite aware the 2023 General Elections have been scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for the Presidential and National Assembly, and Saturday, March 11, 2023, for Gubernatorial and State Assembly, respectively. 

“In view of the foregoing and concerns expressed on the security of staff, students and properties of our respective institutions, the Honourable Minister of Education, Mal. Adama Adamu has following extensive consultations with the relevant security agencies, directed that all Universities and Inter-University Centres be shut down and academic activities be suspended between February 22 and March 14, 2023

“Consequently, Vice-Chancellors and chief executives of inter-university centres, are by this Circular requested to shut down their respective Institutions from Wednesday 22nd February 2023 to Tuesday 14th March 2023.

There is no doubt that this break will worsen the already complicated and distorted academic calendars in many of the institutions. Some of the schools are yet to recover from the combined effects of the COVID-19 lockdown/ strike of 2020 and the 8-month strike of last year which have resulted in a huge backlog of academic work. Indeed some of them have one or two outstanding admissions that have not been actualized even as another JAMB examination holds in a few weeks’ time.

This development has elicited mixed feelings as it may have met the yearnings of some Civil Society Organisations which condemned, earlier in the week, the likely disenfranchisement of about 3.5 million eligible voters if students were unable to vote.

On the other hand, for the students and parents who bear the brunt of the incessant delays as well as the institutions which have to manage the resultant admission and calendar crises, this clearly is not fun.

Many students have expressed sadness over the development saying it is disconcerting to have to lose 3 weeks for 2-dayevent. They add that it is even more painful for many of them who are registered to vote in locations other that their school cities as many of them may have to hang around with their friends while the break lasts. For such students it is a clear case of double jeopardy.

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