As the general election inches closer, some Nigerians on Twitter are lamenting and protesting on the microblogging app alleged moves to disenfranchise university students.
In what seems to be reactions to a front page headline by a national newspaper (not The PUNCH), ‘Elections: 3.5m students won’t vote’, tweeps are calling on the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other tertiary institution unions to declare a holiday for students to go home to collect their Permanent Voter Cards and vote in the elections.
With hashtag #Nigeriastudentsmustvote and a viral picture of the same inscription, some tweeps lambast ASUU for going on strike for eight months in 2022 yet is not willing to give students a holiday to participate in the general election.
The PUNCH reports that ASUU went on an eight-month-long strike which started on February 14 and was called off on October 14, 2022, leaving Nigerian universities closed to academic activities.
A Twitter user, @firstladyship, wrote, “26 million registered voters are students. They registered at home during the 8 months ASUU strike. The managements of universities in Nigeria should allow students to go home before the election. Students should be with their parents during that period. 2 weeks’ break will do.”
Another user, @dreyinker, wrote, “There is no Nigeria without the students… They must be allowed to participate in deciding their next leader…”
Another tweep, @Jay_1883, said, “Lagos State declared 3 days of holiday to enable state workers to pick up their PVCs. If universities across the country don’t declare a break to allow for voting, let students leave schools. U don’t need d school’s permission to travel. Forfeit whatever needs to be forfeited & vote wisely.”
@efe_mills tweeted, “Those years of the Greatest Nigerian Students are gone. If not, who born (sic) monkey for students to be at home for eight months, registered to vote yet can’t because schools are open & they can’t collect their PVCs? If this is (the) game plan, then it will have collateral damage on the outcome (of) the election.”
Addressing ASUU, @rectocriuz wrote, “Dear ASUU, no need for an emergency meeting. Just suspend school for the month of February. Let all students go and get their PVCs and vote! This is but a little price to be paid for a better Nigeria.”
@DrDodiey said, “Millions of votes about to be wasted. Nigeria students must vote.”
@Morris_Monye lamented, “Sad that Nigerian students won’t be voting in this election. Almost 4 million just like that.”
Replying to @Morris_Monye’s tweet, @Iykonic wrote, “It’s not easy like that. I school in the East, but I stay in the North. (I) did PVC there during the (ASUU) strike. It won’t be easy going back to vote because of the distance. Also, for Lagosians in my school, there are a lot of them. (Transport fare) to Lagos now from the East is around 20k.”
Another tweep, @abelgifted48, noted, “For some of us it is impossible to vote oo. For me, I school in Minna (Niger State) and my polling unit is in Makurdi (Borno State) which is about 7 to 8 hrs journey, and to make it worse, I have an exam on Friday before (the presidential) election and on Monday the next week. This is totally wrong. I really want to vote but I can’t…”
Noting the importance of the general election, @UkomahM tweeted, “Due to the distance of the schools from their homes, students need 2-3 weeks to be home, pick their PVCs, locate their various polling units & vote! This is the most important election, not just in Nigeria, but in the whole of Africa.”
Several other tweeps have been lending their voices to the call for tertiary institutions to suspend academic activities to allow students to travel home to participate in the forthcoming elections, with hashtags and visuals flying around.