Universities Stand Down for Democracy: 2023 Election Closures Announced

Nigeria’s higher education sector is set to come to a halt as the National Universities Commission (NUC) has ordered the closure of universities across the country. The move is aimed at enabling students to participate in the 2023 general elections, which will take place on February 25 for the Presidential and National Assembly, and March 11 for Gubernatorial and State Assembly.

In a letter addressed to university vice-chancellors and directors of inter-university centres, the NUC stated that the closure directive was based on a directive from the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu. The letter from the NUC read, “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.”

The NUC noted that the closure was necessitated due to security concerns for staff, students, and university properties. The Minister of Education, after extensive consultations with relevant security agencies, has directed that all universities and inter-university centers be shut down and academic activities suspended between February 22 and March 14, 2023.

The NUC has requested the cooperation of university leaders in the shutdown of their institutions. The letter from the NUC concluded, “Consequently, Vice-Chancellors and chief executives of inter-university centers, are by this Circular requested to shut down their respective Institutions from Wednesday 22nd February 2023 to Tuesday 14th March 2023. Please, accept the renewed assurances of the Executive Secretary’s highest regard for your understanding and unwavering cooperation.”

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The public has been calling for the closure of tertiary institutions to enable students to vote during the 2023 general elections. The NUC’s directive is expected to be welcomed by students and staff alike, who will be given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. The closure of universities is a significant event in Nigeria’s political calendar and is a clear indication of the importance placed on the right to vote and participate in democratic processes.

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