COVID-19: ASUU KICKS AGAINST PROPOSED UNIVERSITIES RESUMPTION, SAYS THERE ARE NO PREPARATION FOR SAFE RE-OPENING
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have kicked against the proposed January 18 resumption date for academic activities in all universities across the nation.
Recall that on January 8 the National Universities Commission (NUC) directed all Universities to reopen from January 18. The directive for reopening came with a strong warning that school authorities must ensure full compliance to all COVID-19 protocols which include hand sanitizing, wearing of facemasks and social distancing.
However, the Chairmen of various chapters of the union said the resumption date is not feasible as most universities cannot adhere to the COVID-19 protocols, adding that the classrooms and hostels are already overcrowded.
ASUU Chairman, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, revealed no preparations have been implemented for the safe reopening of the universities.
“COVID-19 is very real and this second wave is as real as described. We cannot afford to toy with our health and the health of our dear students in the name of resumption, which is politically motivated.
“There are no preparations for safe re-opening of the universities and I think parents must insist on safe re-opening. The current classroom and hostel configurations in our universities do not in any way conform with the PTF (Presidential Task Force) on COVID-19 protocols. There is no way universities can achieve that. I have said this elsewhere, that rather than for government to have addressed the obvious deficits in the public universities during the lockdown and strike, they were playing to the gallery.” Egbedokun told newsmen.
Similarly, Dr Adebayo Oni, ASUU Chairman, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) chapter, said reopening of universities at a time the country is battling the second wave of the pandemic is 'disastrous'.
“The lecture halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my own campus, I have not seen any facility for hand washing Who is to provide sanitizers? Do you expect lecturers to provide sanitizers for themselves? Fumigation of the environment from time to time should be done, How do you cope with students surge and the challenge of power supply?
“It is definitely a threat to the resumption of academic activities. The fact is that under this circumstance and looking at the threat of the figure, going physical with students would be more disastrous. Conducting physical session, physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.
“We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not going to be workable. However, it is going to be at the risk of our lives and the lives of our students if the required facilities are not provided by the government. The truth is that the facilities to cope with the pandemic are not available in our institutions. It appears the government is not ready and our institutions are not helpful.” Oni said.
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Universities in Nigeria have been closed for over ten months due to an industrial strike action embarked upon by ASUU. However, the union conditionally suspended the strike on December 23.