Vice-Chancellors of some federal and state universities in Nigeria have expressed readiness to reopen schools.
Though the Academic Staff Union of Universities had said that varsities were not ready for reopening, the VCs said they had planned to reopen their institutions as directed by the Federal Government.
One of the VCs of a federal university in the South-West told our correspondent that it was wrong for ASUU to claim that there were no guidelines for reopening varsities.
Apart from the scare arising from the second wave of COVID-19, another VC said some of them (VCs) had planned to stagger resumption.
“I think ASUU should begin to speak to facts. Inasmuch as we do not want the COVID-19 outbreak on our campuses, we had our plans. Some academic activities can resume for classes with a few populations,” one of the VCs told our correspondent on the telephone.
“LASU recently held examinations for students in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, and it went well. What do they mean by saying there is no guideline for reopening?” another VC queried.
On his part, VC of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Prof. Felix Salako, said the varsity would resume academic activities on January 18, in compliance with the directives of the Federal Government.
Salako maintained that the university was ready to resume academic activities, saying that measures had been put in place, including COVID-19 protocols as stipulated by the Federal Government.
He said it was mischievous and political for any lecturer to go to the media to say that the university was not ready for academic activities.
Salako noted that the school had undergone fumigation more than 10 times since March 2020, just as there had been massive infrastructural rehabilitation.
He added that the management had been producing its own hand sanitisers, as well as procuring hand-washing basins and soaps needed to keep the students and members of staff safe from contracting the virus.
The vice-chancellor also said the university would be running what he described as “hybrid” teaching, a mix of physical and virtual learning, while no fewer than 150 solar panels had been installed in some of the buildings, to provide alternative sources of electricity and facilitate the planned hybrid system of learning delivery.
“The virtual learning will take care of large classes, like the part one students, but for fewer classes, we have large halls to accommodate the students”, NAN quoted Salako as saying.
Meanwhile, the University of Ilorin has started online lectures as scheduled.
The management of the University of Benin also announced that the institution would resume on January 30.
Also, the Senate of Bayero University Kano, on Monday, approved the commencement of a new academic session on January 18, 2021, while the second semester would commence on May 3, 2021.
The PUNCH gathered that the Senate of Ekiti State University had also announced that the institution would resume online academic activities from January 18.
Deputy Director, Corporate Communications and Protocol of the Federal University of Technology, Akure , Mr Adegbenro Adebayo, said academic activities will resume on January 18 for its students.
The Public Relations Officer of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Biodun Olarewaju, said the Senate of the institution would meet on January 19 to decide when its students would resume.
Subject to the decision of the Senate, the spokesperson said OAU would put in place all necessary arrangements in compliance with COVID-19 protocols to ensure safety in the university environment.
The PUNCH had reported that branches of ASUU had on Sunday assessed COVID-19 protocols in the universities and said the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.
The chapters of the union, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, commented on the directive of the National Universities Commission that universities could resume on January 18, but must adhere to COVID-19 protocols in hostels and lecture halls.
ASUU said although its members were ready to start work, the government had not put measures in place for safe reopening of the schools.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said on Monday that FG would review the January 18 earlier date fixed for resumption of schools across Nigeria.
It attributed the decision to the second wave of COVID-19 currently ravaging the country.
Adamu said, “It (January 18 date of school reopening) is not sacrosanct. When we decided on that date it was just a target towards what we were working on. Of course, we are keeping it in view and looking at what is happening in society and then it is supposed to be subject to constant review.”
NYSC Reopens Camps Amid COVID-19 Second Wave, Alarms Doctors
Medical doctors have faulted the plan by the National Youth Service Corps to open its orientation camps across the country and mobilise graduates for national service amid the ranging second wave of COVID-19.
This was as prominent virologist, Prof Oyewale Tomori, likened the move by the NYSC to an invitation to disaster.
The Director-General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, disclosed on Friday that corps members would be allowed on the NYSC approved camps nationwide from January 19, 2021.
But speaking to Saturday PUNCH, Tomori said the reopening of the NYSC camps at this time was not safe for the country.
He said, “Having people together from different locations in the same place without face masks, washing of hands and the rest is an invitation to disaster.
“The issue of mobilisation, just like reopening of schools, should not be encouraged. Anywhere we have a congregation of people should not be encouraged. The virus is found almost all over the country, so if you are bringing people from different places, regions, and locations to camp in a place then it’s not a wise thing to do.”
Also, an Ogun State-based medical doctor, Dr Oladapo Ogunlaja, told Saturday PUNCH that it would be difficult for the NYSC to enforce COVID-19 safety protocols among the corps members.
Speaking in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, he said, “For now, I don’t think it is a right decision, especially with this raging COVID-19.
Ogunlaja, who is also the NMA Chairman in Ogun State, said, “Are they going to be testing each person before they enter the camps? There are a lot of questions begging for answers. People are coming from different places and many people are not following COVID-19 protocols.
“How many people have you seen on the street using face masks? How many people do you see washing their hands regularly? How many people do you see using hand sanitisers?”
The NMA chairman equally expressed the fear over the planned reopening of schools by the government, saying there was a need to tread wi[b]th caution.
He added, “Even the schools they want to open, I am so scared. Just about two or three days ago, we heard about LASUCOM hostel where three students tested positive; they have to close down the medical school, yet we are talking about the NYSC camps that would have thousands of young people.
“Why is the government doing this? Indeed, by now, what we should be talking about is a total lockdown.”[/b]
Also, the Medical Director of Magodo Specialist Hospital, Lagos, Dr Ayo Olamijulo, expressed concern that the opening of the NYSC camp would escalate COVID-19 cases.
Olamijulo, in an interview with our correspondent, noted that the country was still struggling to accommodate people who had already been infected.
Olamijulo said, “The opening of NYSC camps nationwide is a wrong move. Now, it is obvious that when it comes to attending to issues that need national and international attention, we are not there. We, as a nation, are very lackadaisical. More positive results would come from the NYSC camps nationwide. It is a pity.
“Nothing is being put in place to safeguard the lives of the innocent young Nigerians who are being asked to move to camps.
“Recall that even in cities and towns now, there are not enough oxygen and bed spaces for those battling with the virus. So, how many health workers are in the camps? How many bed spaces are there? How many useful and needed drugs are there for emergencies, which we are experiencing in this period? We have to be careful not to fall into the hands of our enemies.”
While noting that countries were closing their borders and banning gatherings, Olamijulo urged parents and the youths to carefully consider the situation before making a decision.
He added, “Individual parents should be allowed to weigh the options and decide on what to do. They have the right to ask their children to stay at home and go (NYSC) when the situation is conducive. At the end of the day, they should know it is their children.”
In the same vein, a Cross River State-based medical doctor, Dr Innocent Abang, warned of an imminent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country with the move by the NYSC to reopen orientation camps and mobilise youths.
He said, “Nigerians are not good at observing rules. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Some people don’t believe it actually exists. You can’t even force them to use a face mask, let alone asking them to observe social distancing. These are the issues.”
Abang, who is also the NMA Chairman in Cross River State, added that the risk of reopening NYSC camps was particularly high as some corps members may be coming to camp from locations with high COVID-19 cases.
Also, an Ondo State-based medical practtioner Dr Stella Adegbehingbe, advised against the move by the NYSC.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Adegbehingbe, said health workers in the country found the move by the NYSC worrisome.
Adegbehingbe, who is also the NMA Chairman in Ondo State, said, “We are worried over the decision to open the NYSC camps but since they have decided to open the camps, we will appeal to the NYSC to observe the COVID-19 protocols in the camps.”
On his part, an Edo State-based medical doctor, Dr Harrison Omokhua, said the NYSC should only open camps if it could ensure adherence to safety protocols.
Omokhua, who is also the NMA Chairman in the state, said, “I think if the Federal Government is ready to enforce non-pharmaceutical control, the NYSC programme can go ahead. Enforcement of the protocols should be taken seriously.”
Also, Dr Edet Nkantah, who is the NMA Chairman in Taraba State, advised against the reopening of the NYSC camps at this time.
Nkantah said since national youth service was not an emergency, there was no reason the programme could not wait until the situation was safe.
He said, “There is no emergency as regards reopening of schools and NYSC camps. People are just afraid of economic impact of not reopening camps because graduates want to serve and get jobs, but we don’t have the capacity to cope with the virus.
“The last time camps were opened, we had 11 cases of the virus among the prospective corps members. Now they are still going from across the country at a time we have a second wave of the pandemic. So, we don’t support it and that’s the position of the NMA.”
In his reaction, the Chief Medical Director, Mt. Moriah Hospital, Lagos, Dr William Odusola, said the reopening of the NYSC camp would certainly result in spike in cases.
“There is definitely going to be more cases as a result of reopening the camp. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it. ” Odusola said.
However, an Akwa Ibom-based medical doctor, Dr Emmanuel John, said the NYSC should go ahead and reopen its orientation camps but ensure compliance with the NCDC safety protocols.
John, who is also the Public Relations Officer of the NMA in Akwa Ibom State, said, “The NCDC guidelines on COVID-19 have not changed; so we advise people to keep to the guidelines; if they do this, there should be no fear.”
Christian impregnates Muslem girl, flees for safety
By Oge Onyeanusi, Onitsha
The alleged fleeing of Ezejiofor Daniel Chukwuma, a christian, to an unknown destination for safety of his dear life after impregnating a moslem girl while serving his mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme in Sokoto state, is now a source of worry to his christian parents. Chief and Mrs Sylvester Ezejiofor, CHRYSORA MEDIA reports.
Born in 18th December 1990, Ezejiofor Daniel Chukwuma, after attending his primary and post-primary education, proceeded to the Abia state Polytechnic, (2009-2014) and obtained certificate in Accountancy.
Narrating the ordeal his parents and the entire family are going through for not setting their eyes on him since he escaped, the elder brother, Ezejiofor Joel Chukwuka, told newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra
state, that, “during Ezejiofor Daniel Chukwuma’s days at Abia State Polytechnic he was a successful businessman and married to Mrs Ukoh Lovelyn and they were blessed with two children, Okose Alexander Chukwuma, born 06/03/2015 and Okose Stephen Chukwuma born 25/12/2017, before his wife was killed by suspected armed robbers”.
“His friendship with a moslem girl that he later impregnated started when he was posted to Magama hundu, Runjin Sambo Wamakko Local Government Area, Sokoto state.
His life as a christian became threatened by parents of the girl who were supported by muslim youths, a political chieftain, Aliyu Magatakada Wamakko and a Senator, for impregnating a moslem girl”.
“Noticing danger, Ezejiofor Daniel Chukwuma, fled the area and was declared wanted after he was reported to the security operatives to have impregnated a moslem girl and ran away to an unknown destination”.
“He was trailed to his base in the Southeast by angry moslems who got his belongings destroyed and parents grilled to disclose his where-abouts but to no avail as they did not know where he fled to”.
Among his properties estimated into millions of naira they destroyed included, shops, cars and house. They threaten to prosecute us but our major problem now is that since he fled from his NYSC Sokoto state post, we have not set our eyes on him till date and our parents are having nightmare over his condition, as we do not know if he is dead or alive”, he stated.
Kaduna varsity promotes 20 lecturers, dismisses one over ‘sexual harassment’
The Kaduna State University (KASU), has promoted 12 lecturers to the rank of Professor and eight others to the rank of Associate Professor.
The University also terminated the appointment of Dr Idowu Abbas of the Geography Department, over alleged sexual harassment.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Abdullahi Ashafa, announced this in a statement in Kaduna on Friday.
Ashafa identified the lecturers promoted to the rank of Professors as Dr Helen Andow, Professor of Entrepreneurship Management; Dr Upah Butari, Professor of English Language; and Dr Suleiman Suleiman, Professor of Arabic Grammar.
Also promoted are Dr Muhammad Bello, Professor of Accounting and Finance; Dr Sadiq Abdu, Professor of Solid State and Computational Physics; and Dr Dickson Dyaji, Professor of Religious Studies.
Others are Dr Audee Giwa, Professor of Comparative Literature; Dr Usman Yusuf, Professor of Economics; Dr Zainab Dabo, Professor of Finance and Management; and Dr Benjamin Gugon, Professor of Accounting.
Equally elevated to the rank of professor are Dr Zakari Ladan, Professor of Organic Chemistry; and Dr Muhammad Sani Abubakar, Professor of Molecular Physics and Renewable Energy.
“Those promoted to the rank of Associate Professor are Dr Monday Audu, Dr Saidu Abdulkadir, Dr Daniel Hyuk, Dr Solomon Aboh, Dr Maryam Abdu, Dr Lubabatu Kwanbo, Dr Peter Anthony and Dr Salisu Salisu,” he said.
On the dismissal, Ashafa said that the university’s Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee, chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), investigated the alleged sexual harassment against the lecturer.
He said that the report was presented at the 217th Management Meeting of the institution he chaired on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammad Tanko, on Jan. 12.
He said that the management dismissed Abbas from the service of the university and directed that all students under his supervision be reassigned to a descent lecturer in the department.
“According to the report, Abbas confessed in his testimony to have touched and hugged a female student he was supervising her project from behind against her will, when she went to his office to discuss her project.
“His testimonies also revealed other nasty and randy misbehaviour he exhibited to the student.
“This gross misconduct violated Section 8.7 Paragraph (f) of the Administrative and Academic Regulations in Kaduna State University.
“The regulations state that ‘victimization/harassment of student through examination mark is punishable by dismissal and/or termination of appointment,” he said.
The deputy vice chancellor described Abbas’ earlier resignation as “null and void.”
All efforts of newsmen to reach Abbas for comment proved abortive as he did not pick his calls nor replied to the text message sent to him.
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