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.
While disclosing this on Monday September 7, 2020, chief Babalola stated that the FG should try to pay the salaries of the lecturers and equip public universities to make them safe for reopening.
Babalola, in a statement titled, ‘COVID-19: ASUU vindicated on objection to resumption by public universities’, made available in Ado Ekiti on Sunday, said COVID-19 had vindicated the association’s position over the years about decayed infrastructure and the lack of necessary facilities in the universities.
“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,” he said.
He added that the private institutions had reiterated their readiness to reopen and had as well written to the National University Commission to visit to verify their claims of compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, kicked against lumping together of public and private institutions in the blanket closure since March.
“I suggest that the NUC, Ministry of Education and the 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,” he said.
He added, “The government should adequately fund education so that teachers can be well paid, while infrastructure, teaching aids and research grants will be readily available for them.
“It is trite to note that no nation develops without a sound educational system and the foundation is really not in the primary school.
“It is the university level education, because it is the university that trains other levels,” he concluded.