In 2020, tertiary institutions nationwide were closed for more than 9 months, partially due to the union’s prolonged general strike and the COVID 19 pandemic.
ASUU called off their strike on December 23. On January 18, the NUC Commission of National Universities requested universities to resume classes. The reopening directive came with a strong warning that school administrators must ensure strict compliance with all COVID 19 protocols, including sanitization, facemask wearing, and social distancing.
However, Academic Union members say that the date of resumption is not achievable, as most universities are unable to comply with the protocols of COVID 19.
Speaking on this was the chairman of the academic union, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun. He said;
COVID 19 is very real and this second wave is as real as described. We cannot afford to toy with our health and the health of our dear students in the name of resumption, which is politically motivated.
There are no preparations for safe re-opening of the universities and I think parents must insist on safe re-opening. The current classroom and hostel configurations in our universities do not in any way conform with the PTF (Presidential Task Force) on COVID 19 protocols. There is no way universities can achieve that. I have said this elsewhere, that rather than for the government to have addressed the obvious deficits in the public universities during the lockdown and strike, they were playing to the gallery.
Dr Adebayo Oni chairman of union at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) also pointed at the dangers associated with the resumption. He said;
The lecture halls are overcrowded. As of today, in my own campus, I have not seen any facility for hand washing Who is to provide sanitizers? Do you expect lecturers to provide sanitizers for themselves? Fumigation of the environment from time to time should be done, How do you cope with students surge and the challenge of power supply?
It is definitely a threat to the resumption of academic activities. The fact is that under this circumstance and looking at the threat of the figure, going physical with students would be more disastrous. Conducting physical session, physical lectures with students would be more disastrous.
The truth of the matter is that we now propose a mixed model of online teaching and probably some level of physical teachings. Even online teaching also comes with its own facilities which are not readily available.
We don’t want to be pessimistic to say that it is not going to be workable. However, it is going to be at the risk of our lives and the lives of our students if the required facilities are not provided by the government. The truth is that the facilities to cope with the pandemic are not available in our institutions. It appears the government is not ready and our institutions are not helpful.