Students of public universities in Nigeria have expressed their distress and concerns over the recent postponement of the governorship elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The postponement means university students will remain at home for an additional one week.
INEC, the body responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria, postponed the gubernatorial and state assembly elections to March 18. The reason for the postponement, according to INEC, is because they [INEC] would need to take their time to manually configure over 176,000 Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines—a system that combines fingerprint and face biometrics for identity verification of voters—for each polling unit across the country.
The gubernatorial and state assembly elections which were previously scheduled for March 11, together with the general elections which were held on February 25, have been the major reasons why university students have remained at home due to growing security concerns.
Yesterday, March 9, Edugist reported an extension of tertiary institutions’ holiday by Nigeria’s federal government. In the report, Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s Minister of Education, maintained that tertiary institutions will remain closed till March 20, 2023.
LASU final year students hardly hit
As a result of the elections’ postponement, final year students of Lagos State University (LASU) said they are hardly hit by the new development.
LASU had commenced second semester examinations before the NUC issued the directive to close down universities. Although LASU’s management was initially reluctant to grant the whole 3-week break to students, the ongoing financial crisis in the country left the institution with no other choice.
Speaking with Edugist on the impact of the postponement on her plans after school, a final year LASU student who spoke on the basis of anonymity said she ought to have finished her final undergraduate examinations and signed out from school in the week leading to the NUC’s ministerial directive but the pause in academic activities has now delayed her. “Gradually, the break is hitting one month. That is how it builds up slowly and no one is saying anything. They should just allow me to sign out, please. The postponement means I cannot move forward with a graduate internship I secured. It is scheduled to begin by April. I am so sad right now.”
Another LASU student from the department of physics who narrowly escaped the break because he finished his final examinations and signed out a day before the directive took effect in his school said he is grateful as he can now go ahead with his career plans without any “headache”. He however lamented the grave situation as related to his friends in final year who are caught in the web of the break. “It is a helpless situation for them really,” he told Edugist.
In an announcement made through LASU’s official handle on Twitter, the institution has directed students to resume on Tuesday, March 21, to continue second semester examinations.
The Vice Chancellor and Chairman of the Lagos State University Senate, Professor Ibiyemi Ibilola Olatunji-Bello, mni, has granted executive approval on behalf of Senate, the extension of resumption of academic activities at the University to Tuesday, 21st March 2023.
— Lagos State University (@LASUOfficial) March 9, 2023
I have spent 2 academic years in 100 level — UNILAG student
Victor, a freshman from the faculty of education, University of Lagos, said he has already spent two academic years at 100 level. “I just can’t say I am hopeless, but really, I am. I believe I won’t give up. After spending 2 years already at 100 level, I still have about 3 to 4 months left to finally finish from the same  level. I can’t even begin to calculate the amount of years this programme will take from my life, it is really a dire situation.”
While encouraging himself, stating he would utilise his period as an undergraduate to outsource opportunities, he said it is now hard to still pay attention to academics. “This school thing, it’s in God’s hand. I resumed as a fresher around October 2021, this is February 2023 and I am still in 100 level, second semester, it’s not funny at all,” Victor told Edugist.
He said his institution is yet to issue a directive regarding when to resume academic activities or to return back to hostels.
Schooling or money making?
“Schooling requires sacrifice but I have grown weary of the consistent intermittent pauses in my school,” per a 300-level student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) who identified simply as Carr. “I have neglected my money making means to focus on my academics but it appears I may have made the wrong decision.”
Carr said he would return to his laptop to begin “hunting freelance design gigs.”
Edugist earlier reported that, according to INEC, students make up the largest category of voters in terms of occupational distribution. As a result, students are an integral and indispensable part of the electoral processes and should be actively involved as regards participation.
In addition to the struggle to make up for lost time following the industrial strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which kept students at home for eight months in 2022, the election postponement has affirmed that the previous 3-week break issued by the NUC would go one week further, totalling one month—if the gubernatorial and state assembly elections proceed as scheduled.