Blanket closure of varsities unconstitutional, against natural justice, says Afe Babalola
Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Afe Babalola (SAN), has described Federal Government’s blanket closure of universities in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as “unconstitutional and against the principle of natural justice.”
Babalola, who said the new directive affected only private universities, since their public counterparts had not resumed, faulted the Federal Government for shutting down the schools without consulting the proprietors of private universities.
“It is unjust to the parents, teachers, students and proprietors of private universities and also violates the law of natural justice,” he said.
He stated this yesterday in Ado-Ekiti at a media briefing where he expressed his displeasure at the closure of universities and comments credited to Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, that the January 18, 2021 earlier fixed for schools resumption would be reviewed.
Babalola, who said he felt pained by the decision, added: “But for the closure of universities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, ABUAD has always had a stable calendar.
“We have had seven convocations in seven years, because we followed international standards and our session is usually from September to July. Our equipment are wasting away and we have not sent our staff away due to closure.”
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to emulate foreign countries by paying the salaries of lecturers in private universities, which were closed because of COVID-19.
He said the Ekiti State Task Force on COVIS-19 had given ABUAD a clean bill of health when they inspected the equipment for screening and preventing the virus at the institution, adding: “Our students and staff were on campus for three months before the Christmas and New Year holiday and not a single person contracted the virus.”
Babalola said the Federal Government should have considered the geographical location before placing blanket closure, saying: “Schools in Ekiti are safer than those in Lagos and Abuja.”
He warned that continued closure of schools could be counterproductive and disastrous to the nation’s education sector, stressing that mass closure of Nigerian universities could destroy the future of the country.
The ABUAD founder also pointed out that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDCP) had put all things into consideration before recommending that universities should be accorded preferential treatment under COVID-19 in terms of operations.
“I strongly advise that the Federal Government should stop mass closure of schools, particularly private universities that have the required health facilities and have complied with Presidential Task Force (PTF) regulations, which will enable them to implement risk measures should not be closed,” he added.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.