By Our Correspondent
Despite the non-payment of salaries and allowances, by the Federal Government, the Academic Staff Union of Universities say it would go ahead with its intervention programmes in the war against the rampaging coronavirus (COVID 19).
The president of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi, stated this on Tuesday during the flag-off of the union’s intervention on the fight against coronavirus disease at the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State.
Ogunyemi said access to correct information, adequate education and meaningful communication by Nigerians are potent solutions to the scourge.
He, however, noted that the rot in the nation’s education sector is a foundational problem with the country’s health sector, and accused the federal government of not factoring education as a tool to effect the country’s much-anticipated change.
“We cannot confront the challenge by bemoaning our fate. What is expected is that we join forces to do what China and other well-organised societies have done to flatten the curve.
“ASUU acknowledges that public information, education and communication (IEC) is key to success, backed up with access to health facilities and basic medicaments. It is for this reason that we are flagging off our entry into the intervention networks through ASUU-UI today.
“In doing so, we hope our token efforts would produce the desired result in awareness creation for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in Oyo State and Nigeria.”
Members of the union marched round major health facilities to distribute personal protective equipment such as sanitisers, and leaflets interpreted in different Nigerian languages.
On his part, the chairman of the UI chapter of ASUU, Ayoola Akinwole, said the union mobilised its members across various departments to make input in the items produced and distributed within and around the city of Ibadan.
Akinwole said the value of the items distributed could not be quantified, adding that the members’ skills and professionalism invested in the efforts are products of collaboration.
“What we have done today was to distribute sensitisation materials including posters, jingles and protective facilities for our health workers.
“For two months now, the government has refused to pay our members’ salaries, allowances and deductions but we cannot be discouraged in our quest to reposition the country’s education for better.”
The union’s president also said that its branch at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Plateau State, will also intervene, noting that the lockdown will not disrupt the plans.
“Members across the various zones will continue with the intervention, the union’s ongoing industrial action will not discourage its members from contributing to the fight against the disease.
“I can assure you that we will not be discouraged. The train moves to UNIJOS on Wednesday and the next may be our chapter at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State. Any of the chapters I cannot attend will be graced by the zonal leaders,” Ogunyemi said.
He urged the federal government to see reason in the union’s advocacy for the better education sector, adding that it is the enduring solution to Nigeria’s multifaceted challenges.
“For us in ASUU, this is not an occasion for blame game or buck-passing. However, it calls for sober reflection on what we need to do differently with our health and education. We talk of our health because that holds the key to our wealth, and our education because, without it, we are going nowhere in the advancement ladder among the comity of civilised nations.
“With a qualitative and accessible university education, we can guarantee a storehouse of knowledge in scientists, doctors, nurses, laboratory technologists and other medical and paramedical personnel for coping with a global pandemic of the magnitude of the COVID-19. But it appears our universities have no place in the current efforts of the government.”