Afe Babalola blames ASUU for non- reopening of varsities
Eminent jurist, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) has attributed the failure of final year students in Nigerian universities to resume studies as those in primary and secondary schools to frosty relationship between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
According to Babalola, the government left out the final year students of universities because ASUU might raise objection if the undergraduates were directed to resume like the certificate classes in primary and secondary schools.
Babalola, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) and former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Lagos (UNILAG), said he based his assertion on his experience. He described ASUU as “Almighty” in Nigerian public universities.
“Before I took over as pro-chancellor and chairman of council at the University of Lagos, even council meetings could not take place unless ASUU and other unions had been appeased or else such council meetings would not be allowed to hold. It was a serious matter at that time, but I successfully managed that.
“Interestingly, it was a parent who alerted me that the Federal Government had directed final year students in secondary schools to resume and take their final year examinations. He told me that he was shocked and disappointed that the final year students in universities were left out,” he said.
Babalola lamented the Federal Government’s action in the instant case, stressing that it was wrong not to insulate private universities from their public counterparts.
“The future of this country with regard to quality and functional education lies with private universities. Most private universities are reputed for their moral and physical discipline, quality and functional education, hygienic and safe environment, predictable academic calendar, absence of trade unionism, committed teachers, modern teaching equipment and laboratories, and adequate preparation to prevent COVID-19.”
“Indeed, no private university teacher would object to resumption of schools. Already, in the private universities of Nigeria, an Ivy League similar to that in America is emerging. To me, the top ranking private universities should be the mirror or the template for resumption of students because of the hygienic, safe environment and the undoubted discipline amongst students and teachers”.
He urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to visit the private universities directly or through agents, advising that the government should treat education as a necessary social service like electricity supply where strike is forbidden.
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