“We can’t resume now”, Covid-19 protocols absent – ASSU

The  National Universities Commission said that universities could resume on January 18, but must adhere to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls. In lieu of that, branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Sunday assessed COVID-19 protocols in the universities and said the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.

The union Chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State, Dr Adeola Egbedokun said no preparations had been made so far for the 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-FUNAAB,  Dr Adebayo Oni in an interview on Sunday 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 ?”

Describing further in lieu of the rising covid 19 figures, he said

“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 session, 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 teachings.

“Even the online teaching also comes with its own facilities which are not readily available.

“We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not going to be workable. However , it is going to be at the risk of  our lives and the lives of our students if the required facilities are not  provided by the government.

“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.”

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.”

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

 “We don’t know yet when UNIJOS will resume. The Senate will be meeting tomorrow (Monday) and that is where they will decide when the institution will reopen.”

At the University of Calabar, the union Chairman, Dr John Edor said

 “As a union, we are not too quick to talk. We are not too fast to become meddlesome. They have said schools are permitted to resume on the 18th of January, 2021. If by then we see that the necessary things are not put in place for the resumption, the union will come up with a position because we are not ready to expose our members to health hazards.

“That was why we went on strike, asking for revitalisation of public universities. Revitalisation simply means conducive theatres, conducive hostels, offices, laboratories and libraries.

“That is why we are saying let us wait till 18th of January and see how prepared Nigerian public universities are in the face of the second wave of COVID-19 which has come up with a more ferocious variant.”

At the University of Port Harcourt, ASUU Chairman, Dr Austen Sado,  said

 “We have not been invited to inspect any facility in order to determine its suitability. So, we will wait until we get clarification on the resumption, then we will know whether there are things to contend with.”

 

But Registrar of University of Lagos, Mr Oladejo Azeez,  said the decision on resumption of academic activities would be taken by the school’s Senate on Wednesday. He said

“Irrespective of what the Federal Government has said, the resumption of students or of academic activities is the prerogative of Senate. Senate of the university will decide and the meeting of the Senate is coming up on Wednesday; a virtual meeting. The law places this in the hands of the Senate and until Senate meets, there is no way anybody can say anything on resumption.”

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.

“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.”

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