ASUU, NANS, NAPTAN disagree
By Adesina Wahab
WITH the decision by somestate governments to reopen tertiary institutions owned by them, students in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education who have been at home since March this year now have the hope of continuing their studies.
The institutions were at various stages of their academic sessions before all schools were closed by the Federal Government following the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease in the country.
However, during the lockdown, many suggestions were made as to how schools at all levels in the country could continue to functions, one of which was that students could resume in batches.
With the Lagos State Government blazing the trail in the reopening of tertiary Institutions in the country, agitation in some quarters that the approach be adopted by other states and the FG, has heightened.
To those in support of adopting tbe step, it would help the system to continue in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Vanguard spoke to some stakeholders in the sector on the appropriateness or otherwise of the action.
The stakeholders were the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS and the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN. They expressed different views about on the issue.
The Chairman, ASUU, University of Lagos Chapter, Dr Dele Ashiru, faulted the move, saying the government was only trying to dodge the responsibility of providing adequate infrastructure in the nation’s universities and other tertiary institutions.
“The government must not shy away from the fact that it must provide adequate infrastructure in our tertiary institutions. Before considering phased reopening of universities and others, the government should expand the infrastructure there. Our universities are not only overcrowded, many basic things are lacking.
“That has formed the plank of our agitation for years but some people seem not to understand. We are aware that some university administrators are trying to frustrate and sabotage our efforts. Incidentally, the same set of people do benefit from the dividends of our agitation. They benefit when the dividends of the agitation are being given to lecturers.
Also, government should resolve the issue of our ongoing strike, without that, it may be difficult for our members to resume work. There are a number of issues the government has not resolved with us. We started our strike before the Coronavirus outbreak and up until now, they are yet to positively respond,” he said.
The view of NANS
On the part of NANS, the South-West Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Kappo Samuel Olawale, noted that phased reopening of schools was one of the suggestions made by the body to the government.
“It was one of our suggestions that students should resume in batches. University is a large community and an outbreak of any infection can be fatal. For the final year students to resume is good because they are almost finishing their programmes and would soon go into the labour market.
“Students are tired of staying at home and it is becoming frustrating to them. At least civil servants also resumed work in batches and markets are opened in sequences too. We cannot ground the whole system.
The reality now is that we must find a way of living with the virus safely. Time is very precious and we cannot afford to waste it. We must find a way out and that is what I think the government is trying to do,” he said.
What NAPTAN has to say
For the National President of NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, there is nothing bad in the students resuming in batches, but observing all the safety protocols should be key.
“All safety protocols must be observed. When that is done, it is okay. Doing the needful is important, as anything short of this will create problems. We don’t want the lives of our children to be put in danger. This is just as we don’t want their time wasted needlessly. We are compiling information from our state chapters to know what is happening,” he said.
Recall that the Lagos State Government recently announced the reopening of tertiary institutions owned by it and that was followed by Ogun State Government which gave a similar directive.
However, the resumption by the Lagos institutions ran into a hitch as a result of protest by staff unions over the payment of the new minimum wage/consequential increment to the workers.
Subsequent upon the reopening directive, the Lagos State University, LASU, the Lagos State Polytechnic, LASPOTECH, the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, ACOED, the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education MOCPED, announced that their final year students would come on campus first, so as to quickly conclude their studies.
Students in schools owned by the Federal Government are still waiting when they will resume and how they will resume.