The Academic Staff Union of Universities has stated that it is not yet safe for tertiary institutions across the country to reopen, casting aspersions on the certainty of 18th January resumption date earlier announced by the Nigerian Universities Commission.
The union made this known on Sunday after an assessment of COVID-19 protocols in the hostels and lecture halls of universities nationwide
ASUU said although its members were ready to start work, the government had not put measures in place for the safe reopening of the schools.
This is amid concerns over a new COVID-19 variant as cases and deaths rose to 99,063 and 1,350 respectively on Saturday.
The union Chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo, University, Osun State, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, in an interview with newsmen, said classroom and hostel situations in universities did not in any way conform with COVID-19 protocols.
Egbedokun further said no preparations had been made so far for the universities’ safe re-opening 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 our dear students’ health 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 the government to have addressed the obvious deficits in the public universities during the lockdown and strike, they were playing to the gallery.”
ASUU at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta said the university was not ready to cope with COVID-19 challenges.
Similarly, the Chairman of ASUU-FUNAAB, Dr Adebayo Oni said “The lectures halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my 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.
He said, “It is 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 sessions, physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.
“The truth of the matter is that we now propose a mixed model of online teaching and probably some level of physical instructions.
“Even online teaching also comes with its facilities which are not readily available.
“We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not workable. However, it will be at the risk of our lives and our students’ lives if the government’s required facilities are not provided.
“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.”
The Chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU, Dr Musa Babayo, in a text message sent to our one of our correspondents, said that the government and institutions did not show any sign of seriousness in handling COVID-19 issues when the union was on strike.