The rising hopes of students in the nation’s universities to resume their academic activities soon over the ravaging Covid-19 complications may have been dashed, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Wednesday vowed that the members of the union would not go back to work until all the demands that led to the March 23rd 2020 nationwide strike are addressed by the federal government and facilities that would strictly make the students obey Covid-19 safety protocols to avert tragedy in schools are provided.
ASUU zonal coordinator of Ibadan zone, comprising of the University of Ibadan, Unilorin, UniOsun, KWASU, and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Professor Ade Adejumo disclosed this in Ilorin, Kwara state capital at a news conference.
According to him “our strike action which was predicated on governments readiness to honour its MOA with us continues, even if the universities are opened today. It is our responsibility to call governments attention to its duties to the nation and its citizens; this we have done and there is no going back”.
He said, “It is unfortunate that the government has refused to take upon its own responsibility to use the period of the Covid-19 pandemic to address their demands.
“One would have thought that the government would use the opportunity of the lockdown to address the issues in contention with ASUU.
“Surprisingly, the government was carrying on as if the problems no longer exist and as we speak, the government has not called ASUU for discussion on the demands
“We want to say that, if the federal government announce the school’s resumption today, without attending to our demands, our union will not resume duties”
Adejumo added that “Nigerians should note that IPPIS, though not part of our initial charter of demands, it has been elevated to the status of the main issue by the government.“We need to let the whole world know that IPPIS design of the federal government is exclusive to us alone in Nigeria, there is nowhere in the world where it exists. Even the particular country that we copy don’t operate it”
“Even at that, the union has met the government’s challenge for ASUU to develop an alternative platform that will take care of the peculiarities of the university system.
“To this end, we have developed and presented UTAS well ahead of the 18 months period that we promised while still addressing the problem of corruption as being touted by the government and this platform which is more comprehensive and robust that IPPiSwas developed by our teams of experts completely using our resources”.
In view of existing Covid-19 complications in the country, Adejumo who said, members of the union are not in any way opposed to calling for reopening of universities in the country, however, urged the federal government to do the needful by providing facilities in the nation’s universities that would contain the spread of the pandemic in the university communities and avert tragedy.
Adejumo said, “throwing schools open in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic is an open invitation to tragic explosion of the scourge on a scale never witnessed anywhere since its outbreak!”.Adejumo, who noted that there have been agitations from some quarters for the government to re-open schools, especially by proprietors of private universities, said that lives of students should not be endangered for pecuniary gains.
“Has the Nigerian government met the NCDC criteria on COVID-19 protocol in our institutions? Must we endanger the lives of our children for pecuniary gains? Should the primary issue on life and death be used on profit matter?
“COVID-19 is still very much with us. It is in recognition of this fact that the government itself has rolled out certain conditions to be met before schools are re-opened.
“How many of our public institutions can confidently vouch for the safety of our children given the available facilities such as provision of running water for handwashing; social distancing among students; the use of recommended face masks and shields, which are key components of NCDC protocols?
“A situation where a room meant for four now houses 20 students cannot be said to be social-distancing compliant. Our position, as a responsible Union on all these is that; throwing schools open in the midst of all these, is an open invitation to tragic explosion of the COVID-19 scourge on a scale never witnessed anywhere since its outbreak!”.