Vice-Chancellors of federal and state universities in Nigeria have expressed readiness to reopen schools.
But the Academic Staff Union of Universities insists that varsities are not ready for reopening as they have put measures in place to protect students, lecturers and other workers from contracting the new strain of COVID-19.
The VCs said they had planned to reopen their institutions as directed by the Federal Government.
Apart from the scare arising from the second wave of COVID-19, they said they planned to stagger the resumption.
The 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 directive of the Federal Government.
He 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,” Salako said.
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.
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 Senate of Ekiti State University has also announced that the institution will 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.
ASUU had on Sunday assessed COVID-19 protocols in the universities and said the institutions were not ready for safe reopening.
The National Universities Commission had said 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.”
ASUU waiting for appeal court decision – Falana
…But out of court settlement possible
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, says the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) cannot be accused of engaging in contempt of court on the recent verdict of the national industrial court.
Indeed, the ASUU lawyer, who said the union was awaiting the appeal court to determine the next line of action on the current strike by the university lecturers, declared that out of court settlement was also possible.
The industrial court on September 21 ordered ASUU to call off its protracted nationwide strike, granting the Federal Government’s application for an interlocutory injunction.
The union has filed an appeal seeking a stay of execution of the judgment.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, at the weekend warned ASUU against the consequences of contempt of court.
Reacting to Ngige’s comments, Falana, counsel to ASUU, in a statement on Monday, said the application for the leave of the court of appeal against the injunction is the same as an appeal under the rules of the court.
He said ASUU could not be accused of contempt of court because the union is seeking to appeal and stay the execution of the judgment.
“The minister is unaware that the national industrial court lacks the jurisdictional competence to intervene in the resolution of a trade dispute that has not been determined by the industrial arbitration panel,” Falana said.
“However, contrary to the claim of the minister that the ASUU has not filed an appeal, the application for the leave of the court of appeal to appeal against the interlocutory order of injunction is deemed to be an appeal under the rules of the court of appeal.
“The application is equally accompanied by a motion for stay of execution of the said order. To that extent, the members of the ASUU cannot be accused of engaging in contempt of the order of the national industrial court in so far as they are seeking to appeal and stay the execution of the said order.
“Having exercised their constitutional right of appeal and prayed the court of appeal to stay the execution of the interlocutory order of the national industrial court pending the determination of the appeal, the members of ASUU cannot be said to have engaged in any form of contempt.
“However, instead of chasing the shadow by threatening the ASUU with contempt of court and proscription, the Federal Government should adopt urgent measures to end the strike that has paralysed academic activities in public universities for the past seven months.
“In particular, the Federal Government should take advantage of the intervention of the leadership of the House of Representatives to resolve all outstanding issues and end the strike as soon as possible.”
Meet Eruani, youngest Nigerian to receive CFR national honours
President Muhammadu Buhari is set to confer a national honour award of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic on a 48-year-old medical doctor, industrialist and celebrated entrepreneur, Dr Eruani Azibapu, becoming the youngest Nigerian to receive the CFR award.
Eruani, who is the chief executive officer of Azikel Refinery, is to get the award for his immense contributions to Nigeria’s economic growth, employment and national development, according to the letter conveying the national award to him.
The CFR award, according to the letter, will be formally conferred on him at a ceremony scheduled for Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Born on December 25, 1973 to the royal family of King Allwell Eruani, Aguda IX, the Obenema of Emadike Kingdom in Bayelsa State, the philanthropist obtained his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Port Harcourt in 1999.
In preparation for business conquest, he studied at the Lagos Business School where he obtained certification in the Owner Management Programme (OMP). He also studied at the London Business School and the University of Pennsylvania and obtained the Senior Executive Programme (SEP) and Advance Management Programme (AMP) certifications respectively.
Eruani pioneered the establishment of in-country petroleum refining by setting up the first private Hydroskimming Refinery in Nigeria.
With an output of 25,000 barrels per day, Azikel Refinery brings to reality President Buhari’s Modular Refinery Regime launched in 2015.
His business interests, which started with dredging and sandfilling, include power, aviation, oil and gas and technology.
On graduation, he worked as a medical officer in the civil service and some private clinics in Port Harcourt, and later sought further education and specialisation, starting in surgery at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, then travelled to the United States (US) and took interest in family medicine and later became a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Azibapu also worked in Bayelsa State as a medical officer. But when he became a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, he secured employment in Nigerian Agip Oil Company as an expatriate, basically providing occupational health services. He rose to the level of a deputy chief industrial doctor.
Then, there was clamour for him to come back, as the government of Bayelsa State needed some experienced doctors to revive its health sector.
The then governor, and later President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, appointed him as adviser on HIV/AIDS and Community Health and he was appointed commissioner of Health by Chief Timipre Sylvia, who took over from Jonathan.
After serving as adviser for about two years and commissioner for about five years, he went into an area that was considered not befitting, the business of sand selling.
At the outset, not many people wanted to work with him. In fact, when he told his mother that he wanted to go into selling sand, she wept, that her son and only child, a medical doctor of international repute and commissioner was going to start selling sand.
But Azibapu had always known that one could actually make a good business from what many people didn’t like. And he found encouragement in his father, who said he believed in whatever he wanted to do.
He said, “I looked at the critical drivers of that business – I needed to have land and a dredging machine. I couldn’t afford to buy a dredging machine, because it costs millions of dollars. The cheapest dredging machine as at that time was nothing less than $10 million.
“I needed to get land by the riverside. I could go to a community to get land and even if I cannot pay at once, I can pay overtime, and that was what I did. I went and discussed with the Otuogori community and they agreed. That is where my operation is based, more so, it was a vacant land then, as it was always submerged under water.”
Solving the problem of dredging machine was more challenging, as he didn’t have the money to rent a dredging machine, let alone buy one. “So, I approached someone I know has a dredging machine, who remains very famous in my history, called Akpe. I asked if he could pump some sand for me, and he agreed to do so if I was willing to pay.
“From the bill he gave me, I needed an initial deposit of about N80million. I didn’t even have up to N10million. I tried to bargain as much as I could, but it wasn’t forthcoming, so I accepted it, despite not having the money.
“But I said since he wouldn’t need the whole N80 million at once, we should have a payment plan and I proposed N80 million to dredge about 100 feet of sand and offered to pay him N5 million deposit to mobilise a dredging machine to the site.
“I was able to muster about N10 million, so while he was there, I could pay him another N5 million. So, when he pumped the sand and we quantified that it was worth N10 million, I paid another N10 million,” he recalled.”
Asked how he hit it at an early age, Azibapu explained: “It is influence, largely environmental influence. The environment is not where you grow up; it is the people that you meet, your perception and the people that are around you. When you are purposeful and you have success written around you, you are likely to succeed.”
Today, Azikel operates in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states. The business soon evolved into a multinational industry and there was the quest to diversify, this time into the aviation sector, starting with a small aircraft.
Other prominent Nigerians to receive the CFR national award are the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajaiamila; his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara; Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan; former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retired); former CEO/Managing Director/Founder of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia; Chairman, Body of Benchers, Chief Oluwole Olanipekun SAN; economist, and philanthropist, Mr Tony Elumelu, along with a number of serving and retired military officers, Justices of the Supreme Court, business executives and traditional rulers.
-Additional report by the Guardian
Just in: NECO releases 2022 SSCE results, 60.7% candidates pass
The National Examination Council (NECO) has released the results of the 2022 Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) conducted nationwide in July, with over 60 per cent of the candidates scoring credit in five subjects including English and Mathmatics.
NECO Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Dantali Wushishi, disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Minna, Niger State capital, on Thursday.
He said 1,209,703, candidates sat for the examination, with 60.74 per cent (727,864) having five credits and above including English Language and Mathematics.
He said compared to 2021 SSCE figure of 878,925 (71.64%) pass in English and Maths, there is a decrease of 10.9 per cent.
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