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COVID-19: Varsities not safe for resumption, ASUU warns

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says higher institutions of learning in the country are not safe for reopening.

Speaking during a press briefing, on Monday, at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun state, Olusiji Sowande, coordinator of the Lagos zone of ASUU, said there are no measures in place to ensure the safety of students and staff of universities.

The union asked the federal government to extend the standard for airport reopening to the universities before they can resume for learning.

“The response of the public universities to the call by the National University Commission for their readiness to reopen indicates that public universities are not ready,” Sowande said.

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“Hostel accommodation is inadequate; there are no facilities on ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes; water and electricity supplies are not reliable.

“Reopening tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address these issues will be suicidal. While government made arrangements for special bailout 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.

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“If government has faithfully implemented the 2012 Needs Assessment report which identified the intensity of the rot in education sector and tertiary education in particular, Nigerian public universities would have been more involved in COVID-19 testing and developing solutions through cutting edge research in well-equipped laboratories.”

Tertiary institutions in the country have been shut since March after the government ordered their closure to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In August, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the minister of state for education, said tertiary institutions would reopen “very soon”.

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