The founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, has urged the Federal Government to negotiate with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities with a view to paying their salaries and equipping public universities to make them safe for reopening.
Babalola, who said COVID-19 has “exposed the unpreparedness of public universities in the areas of poor infrastructures, underfunding, inefficiency and corruption which ASUU had documented and published”, said although he was not a fan of ASUU in view of its penchant for strike actions, the lecturers’ body was on an “understandable strike” this time.
The ABUAD founder, in a statement titled ‘COVID-19: ASUU vindicated on objection to resumption by public universities’ made available in Ado Ekiti on Sunday, said, “From available facts on the ground, COVID-19 has undeniably vindicated ASUU’s position, protests and grievances over the years about lack of necessary facilities, equipment, and decayed infrastructure.
“This is in sharp contrast to what obtains in private universities most of which are reputed for their moral and physical discipline, quality and functional education, hygienic and safe environment, predictable academic calendar, absence of unionism, committed teachers, modern teaching equipment and laboratories as well as adequate preparation to prevent COVID-19.”
Babalola, who said the private institutions had reiterated their readiness to reopen and had as well written to the National Universities Commission to verify their claims of compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.
He said, “I suggest that the NUC, Ministry of Education and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 should advise the Federal Government on the danger of lumping public and private universities together when considering whether or not to allow universities to reopen.
“Many of the private universities have full residential facilities for both their staff and students. This makes it possible for teachers in private universities to mentor and monitor their students day and night. Some private universities even have lectures in the night while some have state-of-the-art teaching hospitals and well equipped medical centres.”