2023 Election: Confusion As VCs, ASUU Disagree Over Shut Down Of Universities
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the directives of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, ordering the shut down of institutions to enable students to participate in the forthcoming general elections.
Naija News earlier reported that the NUC in a letter on Tuesday addressed to vice-chancellors of all universities and Directors of Inter-university Centres ordered that all schools be shut down between February 22 and March 14, 2023.
The commission noted that the directive was based on the instruction of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH, the ASUU National President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said the opening and closing of institutions is the prerogative of the universities’ Senate as Vice Chancellors do not have the right to do so.
Emmanuel said the FG is desperate and punishing Nigerians at the time they are trying to meet up with lost time resulting from the last 8 months’ strike.
He said: “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.”
However, the Secretary-General, to the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Yakubu Ochefu, disagreed with the ASUU President, saying the FG’s decision is not new as universities get closed 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.”
Also, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Anderson Ezeibe, said the National Board for Technical Education, which oversees polytechnics, is yet to issue any directives.
He argued, however, that the closure and opening of institutions were decisions to be taken by institutions’ Senates.
He said: “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 Senate of the universities are to take the decision of closure or no closure, not NUC.”