Feb 25, 2023 7:00:00

It’s not the best time for students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG). Particularly, students of the College of Medicine (CMUL). Many of them are now in dire straits as it’s likely they’ll be shut out from exercising their voting rights on February 25 due to an order from above.

On February 9, the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) issued a directive to all Nigerian universities. It mandated them to close up shop and suspend academic activities between February 22 and March 14 due to security concerns relating to the election.

In a memo signed on February 20, the UNILAG management ordered students to vacate the premises. However, aside from teaching, the university staff will continue their duties for that period.

How are students reacting to the directive?

Students of CMUL, aka Medilag, are unhappy with the directive. The key reason for their displeasure is that many have polling units (PU) within the school premises. The college is in Idi-Araba, and there are at least seven PUs within the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. 

These include the Staff Quarters, LUTH, Engineering Department LUTH, School Of Nursing LUTH i, School of Nursing, LUTH ii, Student Hostel LUTH i, Student Hostel, LUTH ii and Student Hostel, LUTH iii. 

Citizen spoke to some of them who chose to stay anonymous. Here’s what they had to say.


“I’m a student at CMUL, where hundreds of students registered to vote because the LUTH/CMUL campus has seven polling units. The school is now using the NUC directive to close hostels, disenfranchising several students due to supposed security concerns, even despite students’ willingness to sign indemnity forms.

“During the 2019 elections, students successfully voted on the campus. Because of that, many students retained their polling units here while others newly registered for hostel polling units. CMUL students register in school because our hostels are typically open year-round, as some departments do not run a semester programme. Even during strikes, student hostels are usually left open. Last year’s strike was a surprising exception.

I hope publicity about the school management’s decision could sway them. It’s untenable that they’ll disenfranchise so many Nigerians.

“Our union, the College of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science Students’ Association (COMPSSA), through the student body, reached out to the Provost and College Secretary, but it was futile. Please keep me anonymous. I don’t have my degree yet.”


“I’m a registered voter, and my polling unit is within the school premises. I understand that the school wants to protect itself but at what cost? We’ve always been able to vote in school. There are seven polling units in LUTH. It would’ve been nice to know much earlier if there was any inkling of the hostel’s closure during the elections. 

“Most people would have been able to change their polling units. When we were on strike, people travelled to Mushin to register their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) there because they assumed they’d be voting in school as usual.

“Because they’ve done it this way, the gesture seems malicious. Like they intentionally don’t want us to vote en masse, which I hope is not the case. This should have been my first time voting, and I was very excited to perform my civic responsibility.

“It was crucial for me to have a say in deciding the people to rule the country next. I’ll have to leave that to everyone else.

“The school should’ve tried to figure out what percentage of people registered to vote in school versus those who registered to vote at home. They should’ve made their decision based on that.

“I want them to allow those registered to vote in school to stay in the hostel until the election ends. Some people may be able to squat somewhere nearby, but I won’t. I’m going straight home.”


“I have my voter’s card and am not the only student affected. Students were allowed to vote in LUTH PUs during the last election. That’s why newly registered voters in school also chose LUTH as their PU, and we’re all students. Some people registered long ago, and LUTH’s also their PU.

“Some students submitted letters to the department of student affairs (DSA), but they still told us to vacate the hostels. They’re not saying anything about it.

“They should’ve informed us about going home when we could still change our PUs. Not now when we can do nothing about it. We want to vote.”


“I’m a registered voter, and my PU is within LUTH. Nothing has been said to us directly, but they’ve pasted memos asking us to vacate the hostels. I live in a private hostel inside the school, so it wouldn’t affect me because I was here all through the strike. But I have another friend whose PU is in school and stays in the school hostel.”


I’m a registered voter, and my PU is in LUTH. We received a directive via a broadcast (BC) asking us to vacate the hostel by February 22. I was in school for the last election and could vote, so I don’t know why this time’s different. I want the school authority to keep the hostels open so students can vote. 

“There’s a petition going around right now to alter the directive but to be honest. I don’t think they’d do anything.

How has UNILAG responded?

Citizen contacted the UNILAG communications department to hear their side of things. They said:

“Thank you for contacting the University’s Communication Unit, via email. As regards your inquiry, please note that:

“All students of the University of Lagos are to vacate the university campus, particularly halls of residence, between 12:00 noon, Wednesday, February 22 and 12:00 noon on Friday, February 24, 2023.

“This is in line with the federal government’s directive that students of higher institutions across the country should vacate their schools ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general election.

“The university will re-open its doors to students from Tuesday, March 14, 2023, even as further updates would be provided as the need arises, in the coming days.”

*Name changed to protect their identity



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