COVID-19: ONCE AGAIN, ASUU DESCRIBES OPENING OF UNIVERSITIES SUICIDAL, WARNS FG

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday warned the Federal Government to be ready for any possible negative consequences following its plan to reopen tertiary institutions earlier closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a press conference at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, on Monday, the Lagos Zone of ASUU submitted that reopening of tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address issues within the universities would be suicidal.

The zonal coordinator, Professor Olusiji Sowande, maintained that it is not enough to have the students back on campuses, but that the atmosphere and conditions must also be right.

According to him, hostel accommodation are inadequate, no facility on ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes, adding that water and electricity supply were not reliable in the universities.

The coordinator who was flanked by the branch chairmen of the zones and other officials, maintained that years of neglect of both 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 ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes, water and electricity supply are not reliable.

“Reopening tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address these issues would be suicidal. While government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities, no such arrangement was made for public universities. Therefore, government should be ready to take responsibility for any possible negative consequences after reopening of universities.”

On the ongoing strike, Sowande said the union had written to relevant government agencies with a view to finding steps to put an end to the industrial action.

“It seems to us that some government officials are benefiting from the prevailing situation. We demand that the OAGF must immediately remit all illegally withheld check – offs and other third party deductions with accrued interests,” Sowande said.

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