Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, a civil society organisation, says millions of Nigerian students are likely to be disenfranchised as a result of the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 22.3 million students registered to vote during the general election slated for February 16 and March 2.
This number, accounting for 26.57% of the total number of registered voters, makes students the highest voting bloc in the country.
In a statement on Thursday, Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of EiE, said the industrial action, which commenced November 4, 2018, has robbed many students the opportunity to collect their permanent voter cards (PVCs).
She said less than 48 hours to the end of PVC collection, the disenfranchisement of has been left unaddressed.
Adamolekun also expressed concerns that many of the students who have travelled would also not be able to exercise their voting rights if their registered polling units are in their schools.
“As of 2017, there were about 1.9 million Nigerians in tertiary institutions. For as long as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are on strike, students will not be able to return to their universities and vote if that’s where they registered. Neither the federal government, nor ASUU nor INEC has clearly addressed this,” the statement read.
“It is hard to believe that the academic union, the most cerebral group of Nigerians, hasn’t thought through the grave implications of a strike straddling election. ASUU may not be deliberately disenfranchising millions of Nigerians, but they certainly are, at least, inadvertently complicit along with the federal government.
“Furthermore, if ASUU calls off the strike today, it is completely impractical to expect students to make their way to their university cities by Friday to pick up their PVCs. Will there be an extension?”
The EiE also said it has received many complaints from people who were told their PVCs could not be found.
The group accused INEC of disenfranchising voters by frustrating the efforts of Nigerians to collect their PVCs.
It called on INEC to address the issues of the students PVCs before the deadline for collection.
“Ninety-five percent of the complaints we have received from citizens are that their PVCs could not be found. They would have made several trips to INEC’s local government offices until they are finally told to come back after elections. In telling registered voters who have proof that they are in INEC’s database to come back after elections, INEC is disenfranchising these voters,” it read.
“We are only aware of those that have access to social media who can complain to us. What about others who do not have such access? It is also disturbing that the complaints are disproportionately from parts of the country which already have relatively lower PVC pick up rates.
“Every Nigerian has the right to vote and participate in the electoral process and it is INEC’s responsibility to ensure that this is possible. We call on INEC to address these two issues clearly before PVC collection ends tomorrow, February 8th.”