It’s unsafe to reopen varsities now, COVID-19 guidelines absent, ASUU says

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

 

By Aiyeku Timothy 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has kicked against the proposed reopening of universities across the country over Covid-19 fears.

This is after the National Universities Commission (NUC) had directed that universities could resume on January 18, but must adhere to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls.

Some of ASUU branches are concerned with the increased cases of coronavirus and deaths, which rose above 100,000 and 1,350 respectively on Sunday.

The body however, said its members were ready to start work, but government had not put measures in place for safe reopening of the schools.

The union Chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, in an interview said classroom and hostel situations in universities did not in any way conform with COVID-19 protocols, stressing that there is no preparations to ensure safe re-opening of the universities and urged parents to insist on safety before re-opening.

He said, “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.”

The Chairman of ASUU, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Dr Adebayo Oni, in an interview also said, “The lectures halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my own campus, I have not seen any facility for hand washing.  Who is to provide sanitisers? Do you expect lecturers to provide sanitisers 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?”

Oni said the union had observed that conducting physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.

Also, the Chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU, Dr Musa Babayo, said “The coast is now very clear since has ASUU suspended its strike and it has gone further to show how government and institutions are not serious in the handling universities, particularly the issues of COVID-19.

“When you talk about ATBU and resumption whether ASUU is satisfied, I can tell you that we have yet to see any tangible improvement, whether in hostel accommodation, classrooms and other things needed for COVID-19 protocols.”

In his remark, the Chairman of ASUU at the University of Jos, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, said the association was concerned about the second wave of COVID-19.

The Ahmadu Bello University branch of ASUU said although its members were ready to work, it had not seen any measure put in place by the university.

ABU’s ASUU Chairman, Prof. Rabiu Nasiru, “I haven’t seen any measure taken so far by the management of ABU, but since the senate of the university is meeting on Tuesday, once Senate meets, I know those issues will be raised and it will be discussed. But for now, I have not seen any measure taken.”

Other ASUU branches, including University of Calabar, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, UNIPORT, University of Lagos also spoke in the same direction, affirming that there cannot be resumption as directed by the NUC until Covid-19 protocols are put in place.

Nigerian students will continue their compulsory holiday as they have been away from the lecture halls since March as a result of the pandemic and the just concluded ASUU strike.

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