By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has objected to the reopening of the universities, even as it makes its next line of action known today in Abuja.
Its General Secretary, Peters Adeyemi, who spoke yesterday with The Guardian, explained that reopening the ivory towers without providing the means for them to meet COVID-19 protocols on campuses would expose both students and workers to unmitigated deaths.
His words: “There is no way universities can reopen now without the availability of COVID-19 protocols. Most of these institutions do not have the wherewithal to sustain safety practices such as hand sanitisers, running water and soap and face masks. Above all, how can they ensure physical and social distancing in crowded classrooms? The hostels are over-crowded and most offices are so small that it cannot contain many students. Where does the government expect the universities to get money to provide all these?
“I know that most Nigerians want the universities to reopen, but must we throw our children and university workers under the bus to achieve this? To NASU, safeguarding the health of both workers and students is paramount. Before the universities can reopen, government should set aside some money for each university to put the necessary infrastructure in place first.”
On the ongoing protests by members of NASU and Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Adeyemi hinted that the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both unions would be meeting in Abuja today to unveil the second phase of the exercise.
“I am aware that the JAC of both NASU and SSANU will be meeting in Abuja on Thursday (today) to unveil the next stage of the struggle. The JAC will receive reports of the protests nationwide and evaluate. After the evaluation, a decision will be taken. I must commend our members nationwide for their patriotism and dedication that led to the success of the protests.”
He added that by the characterisation of the current administration, a simple protest for a few days would be insufficient to arouse their responsiveness.
“We are aware that this government is not easily responsive to its responsibilities. We are aware that it will take more than three days’ protest for them to respond to our agitations. If the academic staff union can do seven months strike, we are ready to go on as long as it takes. We know we are not doing sprint but long-distance race. For us, the welfare of our members is very paramount and we are ready to defend and promote their welfare,” Adeyemi stated.