Richard Ginika Izuora
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday, August 31, advised the Federal Government not to reopen tertiary institutions without taking necessary steps to curb the spread of COVID-19.
ASUU further revealed that there may be negative consequences following the mandate to reopen tertiary insitutions.
THis was contained in a statement issued by the Lagos State Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, while addressing journalists at a press conference held at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.
Sowande lamented that the government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities but did not extend the same arrangement to public universities.
He cautioned that it is not enough to have the students back on the campuses; but that the atmosphere and conditions must also be right.
According to the ASUU Coordinator, there is no facility on the ground; to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes.
He declared that years of neglect of both the education and health sectors in the country has resulted in inadequate infrastructure; and lack of well equipped diagnostic, testing, treatment, and research laboratories in both sectors.
Sowande said, “The response of the public universities to the call by the National University Commission, for their readiness to reopen indicated that public universities are not ready.
“Presently, hostel accommodations are inadequate; no facility on the ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes; water and electricity supply are not reliable, etc.
“Reopening tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address these issues would be suicidal. While the government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities; no such arrangement was made for public universities.
”Therefore, the government should be ready to take responsibility for any possible negative consequences; after the reopening of universities.”
Speaking on the ongoing strike, Sowande said the union had written to relevant government agencies; with a view to finding steps to putting an end to the industrial action.