THE Federal Government has directed all Universities and Inter-University Centres to shut down and academic activities suspended from February 22 to March 14 over the forthcoming February 25 and March 11, 2023 elections.
The order is to allow the over 3.8 million registered voters, accounting for 40.8 per cent of students, to participate in the elections.
The directive was contained in a circular dated February 3, 2023 and addressed to all Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Directors/Chief Executives of Inter-University Centres by the National Universities Commission (NUC), which was sighted by Daily Champion on Thursday.
NUC Deputy Executive Secretary (Administration), Dr Chris Maiyaki, who signed the circular, confirmed to Daily Champion that the decision was also taken following the concerns expressed on the security of staff, students and properties of the respective institutions.
The circular reads in part: “As Vice-Chancellors of all Universities and Directors Chief Executives of Inter University Centres are quite aware, the 2023 General Elections have been scheduled to hold on Saturday 25 February 2023, for the Presidential and National Assembly, and Saturday 11 March 2023 for Gubernatorial and State Assembly, respectively.
“In view of the foregoing and concerns expressed on the security of staff, students and properties of our respective institutions, the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu has following extensive consultations with the relevant security agencies, directed that all Universities and Inter University Centres be shut down and academic activities be suspended between 22 February and 14th March, 2023:.
It would be recalled that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi has called for the closure of the nation’s universities to enable the over three million Nigerian students who are eligible to vote in the forthcoming elections to perform their constitutional right of electing their leaders..
Speaking on Monday evening during a meeting with observers from the European Union, Election Observation Mission EU-EOM, the Labour Party candidate while answering a question on the fate of over 3.5 million students that may not exercise their voting right if at least one week holiday is not given to enable them return to their area of registration, said “I am sure INEC will do the right thing. I am sure the universities will give them the break to go and vote. It is important because it is about their future This election is about these young people and I’m sure they will allow them to go and vote. We will continue to mention it to them as we go along.”
Buhari approves Transition Council
Meanwhile, determined to ensure that the 2023 general election hold as scheduled, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a Presidential Transition Council, for facilitating and managing the 2023 transition programme.
Members of the Committee are:
i. Secretary to the Government of the Federation – Chairman
ii. Head of the Civil Service of the Federation
iii. Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice
iv. Permanent Secretaries from the following Ministries and Offices:
c. Finance, Budget and National Planning
d. Foreign Affairs
e. Information and Culture
f. Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA)
g. Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs
h. Cabinet Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF)
i. General Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF)
j. Economic and Political Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF)
k. State House
v. National Security Adviser
vi. Chief of Defence Staff
vii. Inspector-General of Police
viii. Director General, National Intelligence Agency
ix. Director General, State Security Services
x. Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and
xi. Two representatives, to be nominated by the President-elect.
Similarly, the Transition Council will be inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on Tuesday 14th February, 2023 at 12 noon at the Conference Hall of the SGF.
Also, the President has signed the Executive Order No. 14 of 2023 on the Facilitation and Management of the Presidential Transitions.
A key feature of the Presidential Executive Order No. 14 of 2023 is the institutionalization of a legal framework that would enable a seamless transition of power from one Presidential Administration to another which is part of President Buhari’s legacy.
In a related development, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba has approved the setting up of an Election Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Team for deployment across the states of the federation, to identify, analyze and mitigate threats, as well as carry out on-the-spot assessment and appraisal of the security emplacements ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Also, he has appointed the Vice President (INTERPOL) and Head, National Crime Bureau (NCB), AIG Garba Baba Umar as the National Coordinator of the team of experienced senior Police Officers with vast knowledge in election security management, to be assisted by other team members including the AIG Force Secretary, AIG Habu Sani, CP Election Monitoring, Basil Idegwu, the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi.
The team also comprises 7 other Commissioners of Police, 15 Deputy Commissioners of Police, 30 Assistant Commissioners of Police, 30 Chief Superintendents of Police, and 16 Strategic Officers of other ranks.
The IGP, while reiterating the commitment of the Police to ensuring that the elections are safe, secure, credible, and in line with global best practices, tasked the team to, amongst other things, ensure the propriety of deployments, give real-time coverage of the electoral process, and safeguard against hostile external and internal influence using INTERPOL, anti-cybercrime and intelligence tools and assets of the Nigeria Police Force.
Similarly, he reaffirmed the establishment and viability of the Electoral Offences Desks domiciled at the State Criminal Investigation Departments (SCID) of all commands across the nation headed by the Assistant Commissioners of Police in charge of the SCID.
The Electoral Offences Desk is saddled with the responsibility of collating, investigating and prosecuting all matters relating to electoral offences nationwide.
He called on well-meaning Nigerians, international communities, and all stakeholders to support the NPF teams in all areas, particularly on intelligence sharing and regular engagements, to achieve success in the 2023 general elections.
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