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COVID-19: We are not in support of reopening universities – ASUU tells FG

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has faulted the plan by the Federal Government to reopen public universities in the country.

Prof. Lawan Abubakar, the Bauchi Zonal Coordinator of the union, who made this known during a news conference on Tuesday in Jos, said that the move could be “perilous’’.

Abubakar, who declared that ASUU was not in support of the plan, said that reopening of universities would further pose grave danger to students and it would be inimical to the fight against the spread of coronavirus in the country.

He said that most public universities lacked the infrastructure that would enable students comply with putting safety protocols in place, thereby, making them prone to contracting the dreaded virus.

“ASUU is not in support of government’s plan to reopen universities.

“Our position is that universities should remain close until the right thing is done to enable students comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols.

“If students resume now, is it the grossly inadequate lecture halls, workshops, hostels or laboratories that will give them the opportunity to observe social distancing and other protocols?,” Abubakar asked.

The coordinator said that the outbreak of COVID-19 had further affirmed ASUU demands for a well-funded university system as contained in the 2013 and other Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was reached.

He said that with the manner in which government was poorly funding universities in the country, it would take more than 10  years to put the necessary facilities on ground that would enable students comply with the safety protocol against the virus.

“With the way government is handling funding of universities, it will take us more than10 years before it will put necessary facilities to comply with all the protocols in public institutions.

“Had it been government implemented the 2013 MoU and subsequent ones, we wouldn’t have been caught off-guard by COVID-19; we would have been contemplating reopening the universities now that the numbers of cases are declining in the country.

“So, it is now clear to everyone that neither the struggle of ASUU nor the COVID-19 protocols agree with the reopening of universities. We must avert this disaster while we can,” he said

The union leader called on students, parents and the general public to support ASUU in its bid to salvage the university system from total collapse.

“We call on students, parents, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the general public to understand and support us in the struggle.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that public universities in the country are not joked with,” he said.

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