“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” – George Washington
It is not uncommon for young men of this generation to be found in doing a lot of talking across social media platforms, while doing little to no execution in reality. This has led to a chaos of unending political ignorance aggrandizement, and unsolicited political analysis from youngsters who will either not participate in electoral process by registering, collecting, and using their Voter’s Card, or fail to even register at all.
The build-up to 2015 general elections taught the University of Ilorin a very practical lesson on the habit of younglings towards electoral participation. The University made remarkable shift to its academic calendar, suffered further as INEC dis same to the electoral calendar, only for elections to happen with young citizens participating in the election primarily on social media. Well, a handful of them quite did at the polls, and that’s commendable. But a great cut of these students only wallowed in idleness and nothingness, while some enjoyed twitter bants as the future of Nigeria; their future, was being decided.
Thomas Paine has quite mentioned that you may either “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”, and nothing best equates the situation we’re in at the moment. If young Nigerians who are students of the University of Ilorin will not participate in the process, why not step away into the protection of their books in search of more education, and leave those who would participate to enjoy their participation? If nothing else will be curtailed, the engagement of students in exams at time of election will reduce the level of fake news being spread by idle hands. However, we must remind ourselves that while it seems like the University of Ilorin has refused to allow students participate in the electoral process altogether, examination will start on the 11th of February, allowing for a break on the 15th of February for the February 16 Presidential election polls.
To buttress the position of the University, I’ll quote Thomas Jefferson when he said “The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” If students of the University are assured of changes in Political orientation, then they’ve Friday February 15 to talk and decide on whom to vote for February 16 Presidential race. Citizens who have registered in nearby states and cities will have the grace of Friday to travel home, vote on Saturday, and return to the University on Sunday. People who registered in distant places had the option of transferring their voter’s card and polling unit long before now, and failure to tap into this only buttresses how unready youths are towards participation in politics and governance, a major determinant of their professional future.
I hereby submit before you My Lords in this honourable court of public opinion, that the University of Ilorin is not in any way disenfranchising students, and that only those who choose to not vote will not do so in the forthcoming election. In addendum, having exams run during election week is no evil at all, but a utilitarian good that should be commended rather than attacked.
The General elections are just a few days away, my lords. The atmosphere is recognizably agog with intense campaign, accusations, missive, tantrums, whistle blowing, threat, (mis)namings and all that’s characteristic of the Nigerian electioneering culture—name anything
As the 16th of February draws close, the heat becomes sharper, the lobbying game of the major political parties take new twists. The incumbent flops on the national television and online pictographs, his deputy gets involved in an unfortunate ‘copter accident, Peter Obi spews some bogus fact, Atiku Abubakar is proclaimed non-Nigerian. Several ridiculous show of Shame begins to unfold. Just as the new month of February breezed in, the management of the University of Ilorin released the final examination timetable —which is to begin on February 11th— for her 300L to 600L students excluding their 100L and 200L counterparts on the basis of the unmatriculated freshers and the need for proper consideration of their academic syllabus.
A proper study of the timetable reveals that their will be no exams on Friday, 14th, but exam kickstarts immediately on the 18th affording only students a day to travel and to return to school in between the rigours of examination and elections. My lords, without mincing words, this is a clear case of systematic disenfranchisement.
Students are not told of the refusal of the University to grant them the required leave to fulfill their constitutional right but the condition of their reality points all indication at this fact. Let us consider the feasibility of students whose travel back home will require [almost] a full day to reach home for elections, vote and resume to excel in their exams on Monday? Prevention —of any form— from participation in elections is a violation of constitutional right. Several students are yet to collect their permanent voters card for a reason or two—mostly academic and in my own case, an unfortunate error of omission. I suspect that the stance of the opposition counsel might be built on accidental safety and youths, even inspite of a break, not going to participate in the election. But, my lords, have we considered how earnest these youths interested in taking their destiny in their own hands? How vocal they have been in voting out unqualified candidates and the political jobbers back to their hometowns. Have we considered the myriad of harm and accident we are exposed to even without travelling in this country? My lords, if it pleases this court, I recommend a week holiday spanning from Thursday until Wednesday in order to facilitate students’ electoral participation and examination excellence. Exams can wait or be rescheduled but the destiny of our country cannot wait. Thank you
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
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