By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has expressed fear that the infrastructural decay in the nation’s universities may lead to a spike in pandemic if students are allowed to return to school.
Speaking in Awka, the ASUU chairman, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka chapter, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh, regretted federal government’s inability to provide universities with facilities to maintain basic COVID-19 protocols
He said that most public higher institutions in the country including Nnamdi Azikiwe University lack expanse lecture halls, desks, washhand materials, bed space and other basic infrastructure to protect students against COVID-19.
“The fundamental problem with schools resumptions is that most public universities have no facilities to help students and staff maintain basic COVID-19 protocols.
There are no water and washing equipment in front of lecture halls. There is no university in Nigeria that can boast of a one thousand capacity lecture hall to contain numbers of students we have in social distancing.
“Go to our school hostels, you will see there are no enough bed space to also allow students keep to social distancing. The infrastructural decay in public universities is alarming. This is what we have been fighting for since 2009 which federal government was yet to honour,” Ufoaroh added.
On the issue of the lingering industrial action, the ASUU chairperson urged the federal government to create room for dialogue, saying that university education would be uplifted higher if their demands were met.
He reeled out the demands to include implementation of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), addressing infrastructural challenges bedevilling universities, amongt others
The ASUU chairman wondered what the IPPIS agents will achieve by wasting tax payers money on visits to Universities to capture data of workers they can not properly manage, largely due to the inefficiency in the IPPIS platform, which lacks the robustness needed to handle the peculiarities with University workers honourarium payments as well as the attendant third party deductions.
While saying that they will never back out of the struggle to reposition the universities, he called for supports from students, parents and guardians, noting that going contrary could balkanise public universities like public primary and secondary schools.
According to him, such situation will end up discomforting the poor masses whose children may not afford to enroll into private universities or go abroad.