The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has warned that reopening pubic universities now could lead to a second wave of the coronavirus in the country.
At a press conference at the weekend in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Dr. Igbana Ajir, maintained that reopening the universities without adequate arrangement in place, such as hostel accommodation, availability of physical facilities to enable social distancing in large and usually overcrowded classrooms, running water, steady electricity supply as well as testing and isolation centres, would be suicidal.
On poor governance and running of illegal universities, Ajir wondered how the governments allegedly turned establishment of universities into constituency projects.
“The visitors of these new institutions are obviously more interested in making political capital than having functional tertiary institutions. The most glaring examples of these states include Ondo, Gombe, Bayless and Kogi..
“And without adequate preparation for running these institutions, they tend to rely on TETFund and school fees as major sources of funding. Most universities today consider payment of school fees as internally generated revenue, with which to run their institutions and pay part of their staff salaries. The union condemns this in totality as it is a pretex for increasing school fees payable by poor parents in Nigeria,” the union decried.
ASUU also described as embarrassing, a scenario where three out of 12 universities established by former President Goodlock Jonathan have been operating close to ten years without their establishment laws.
He said:“These are Federal University, Wukari; Federal University, Gusau and Federal University, Birnin Jenni. This implies that these institutions have been graduating students illegally and running illegal programmes.
“We are therefore calling on the general public and well-meaning Nigerians to stand and stop this design to scuttle the academic pursuit of poor children in public universities in Nigeria.”
ASUU expressed dismay over alleged persecution of their members in Kogi State University, Anyigba, where the visitor to the institution had proscribed the union without recourse to the laws of the land and sacked over 120 members of the academic staff of the institution that are loyal to the union.
“We are, therefore, calling on all branch chairpersons of ASUU to adequately mobilize their congresses on sanctions against the university as resolved at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at Enugu State University of Science and Technology. “
ASUU expressed worry over alleged falsification of figures indicating reduction in COVID-19 infection across the country “even when there are no testing centres,” alleging that all such were done to reopen the universities.