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COVID-19: It’s suicidal to reopen universities now, says ASUU

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities , on Monday , warned the Federal Government that attempts to reopen tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to curb the spread of COVID – 19 would be suicidal .
ASUU raised the alarm that the federal government should be ready for any possible negative consequences following its plan to reopen tertiary institutions .
The Lagos Zone of ASUU said this while addressing journalists at a press conference held at the Olabisi Onabanjo University , Ago- Iwoye, Ogun State .
The zonal coordinator of ASUU, Prof . Olusiji Sowande , lamented that the government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities but did not extend the same arrangement to public universities .
He cautioned that it is not enough to have the students back on the campuses but that the atmosphere and conditions must also be right .
According to the Coordinator who was flanked by the branch chairmen of the zonal and other officials ,
accommodations are inadequate, no facility on the ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes .
He added that water and electricity supply were not reliable in the universities .
He declared that years of neglect of both the 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 readyPresently , hostel accommodations are inadequate, no facility on the ground to carry out physical distancing in large and crowded classes , water and electricity supply are not reliable , etc .
“ Reopening tertiary institutions without taking concrete steps to address these issues would be suicidal . While the government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities , no such arrangement was made for public universities .
” Therefore, the government should be ready to take responsibility for any possible negative consequences after the reopening of universities .”
Speaking on the ongoing strike , Sowande said the union had written to relevant government agencies with a view to finding steps to putting an end to the industrial action .
He said “ 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.

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