The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), Lagos Zone on Monday warned the federal government to be ready for any possible negative consequences following its plan to re-open tertiary institutions closed due to the outbreak of the global Coronavirus pandemic.
The Coordinator, ASUU, Lagos Zone, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, who gave the warning at a press conference, after a meeting held at Olabisi Onababjo University, Ago-Iwoye, maintained that reopening of tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address issues within the universities would be suicidal.
Sowande said, the response of public universities to the call by National University Commission for their readiness to reopen indicated that they are not yet ready
“Presently, hostel accommodations are inadequate, no facility on ground to carry out physical distancing in large 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 bail out 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”.
While maintaining that it is not enough to have the students back on campuses Sowande noted that the atmosphere and conditions must also be right.
The Union 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.
Speaking on the ongoing strike by the union, Prof Sowande said ASUU had written to relevant agencies with the hope that steps would be taken to put an end to the strike, Sowande said “it seems that some government officials are benefiting from the prevailing situation”
The union “demand that the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation must immediately remit all illegally withheld check-offs, and other third party deductions with accrued interest”