ASUU Kicks against Reopening of Public Universities

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared that public universities were not ready to re-open despite the National Universities Commission (NUC) asking them to prepare for resumption according to COVID-19 safety protocols.

The union also questioned non-remittance of check-off dues from members’ salaries under the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) for about four months.

Addressing reporters at the mini- campus of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, the Coordinator of the Lagos Zone of ASUU, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, warned that it would be “suicidal” for universities to resume in an environment devoid of facilities to observe safe physical and social distancing amid the pandemic.

ASUU said no concrete steps had been taken by the governments in any of the country’s public universities to safeguard the health of their members and students from the COVID-19 pandemic should the universities resume as directed by NUC.

Olusiji, who addressed reporters in company of branch chairmen from the zone – including Dr. Joel Okewale (OOU); Dr. Adebayo Oni (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta); Isaac Oyewumi(Lagos University, Ojo); Tunji Ettu (Tai Solarin University of Education, TASUED, Ijagun); and Dele Ashiru of the University of Lagos, noted that hostel accommodation was inadequate for students.

He said: “The response of the public universities to the call by the National Universities Commission for their readiness to reopen indicated that public universities are not ready.

“Presently, hostel accommodations are inadequate, no facility on ground to carry out physical 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 government made arrangements for special bailout funds for airline operators and other private entities, no such arrangement was made for public universities.”

Regarding IPPIS deductions, Olusiji accused the Office of the Accountant General of failing to remit deductions from salaries of members who were forcefully enrolled on the platform despite the union’s protests against it.

He said: “The numerous complaints and other observed gaps in payment through IPPIS only confirmed our suspicion that the platform is a mere business venture for some individuals who are bent on milking the country dry.