Following the outcry that about 3.5 million students may be disfranchised in the February 25 and March 11 general elections, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigerian (NAPTAN) yesterday made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to grant the students two weeks break, to enable them participate in the polls.
This is as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has also sought a two-day break for the students to travel to their various homes or destinations where they registered to vote during the elections.
An increase in awareness on the implications of 2023 elections has seen a significant rise in the number of youths registering to vote in this year’s polls. INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu said the total number of newly registered voters in Nigeria is 9,518,188 and that youths lead the statistics.
“In terms of occupation, 3.8 million (40.8 per cent) are students,” he said, the majority university and polytechnic students.
The media had exclusively reported on Tuesday that these students currently on campuses might be unable to vote because of their academic engagement in February and March 2023 based on the 2021/2022 academic calendar.
It was also reported that majority of the students registered at home and other destinations and that they have complained of the likelihood of being disenfranchised if not allowed to travel outside their campuses to vote for the presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies candidates of their choices in February and March.
In a reaction to Daily Sun story, NAPTAN called on the Federal Government to give students in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education two-week break to participate in the elections given their enthusiasm.
Its Deputy National President, Chief Adeola Ogunbanjo said: “The students make up the largest population of this country and they can’t be ignored in this elections. The government must ensure they are not disfranchised. The students make up 40 percent of our population and should be given the opportunity to vote.’’
Former president of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Sunday Asefon said two days was enough for the students likely to be affected by examinations and tests fixed during the election dates to travel outside their campuses to vote.
“One week is too much and I don’t support that. And I believe that no student leader will support that too. The reason is that we have lost a lot of time in the academic calendar since 2020 due to ASUU strike and COVID-19 pandemic, and we can’t afford to waste more time due to elections.
Schools’ management should rather direct that lecturers fix little academic work on Thursday preceding the election weekend, while Friday should be holiday. This will enable any student who is interested in participating in the election to travel for the exercise.”