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COVID-19: ASUU Warns on Why Opening Universities Now Could Be Suicidal

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday, warned the Federal Government not to reopen schools, especially tertiary institutions of learning. ASUU said the reopening of schools without taking realistic measures to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 would be suicidal.

The academic union lamented that the Federal Government did not deem it fit to give bailout funds to universities as it did for airline operators and other private businesses, warning that the government should be ready for any negative consequences that may follow its planned reopening of tertiary institutions.

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The Lagos Zone of ASUU disclosed this while speaking at a press conference held at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, in Ogun State.

In his words, the zonal coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, warned that having the students back on the campuses should not be the priority, but the atmosphere and conditions must also be right at this period of the pandemic.

Sowande maintained that there are no facilities on the ground to effect social distancing in large and crowded classrooms and hostels. According to him, water and electricity supply is nothing to write home about in the universities.

Sowande stressed that the education and health sectors have suffered years of neglect in Nigeria, which he said has resulted in poor infrastructure, lack of well-equipped diagnostic, testing, and research laboratories as well as treatment centers in both sectors.

Recall that the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba had, on August 22 said  tertiary institutions shut in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in March, would reopen “very soon.” During a Nigerian Television Authority program, Nwajiuba said the Federal Government was also working to end the strike embarked upon by ASUU.

But the National Vice–President,  Osodeke, in an interview with The PUNCH, called on the Federal Government to upgrade the education sector,  if it wanted universities across the country to resume.

Osodeke said that if the government believed that the education sector was critical, it should meet the COVID-19 guidelines which it prepared for school reopening.

He maintained that a topnotch procedure was created at airports because the elite children needed to be kept safe while returning to school abroad, whereas other  Nigerian children were asked to go back to campuses which were not  COVID-19 complaints.

He stated,

“It is not safe to return to school. The government set the rules for schools on what should happen before schools can reopen. 

Has the government met the rules? No, they have not.

Do we have enough space where the students can keep social distancing?

A room that is going to contain two students, we have between 10 and 20 students, will they change that? 

The lecture theatres too… Do they have improved medical facilities in case of an emergency.

These are not there. We expect government to meet those rules before it thinks about reopening.

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