The President Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi on Tuesday flagged off ASUU intervention materials to sensitise the public and check the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus at the University of Ibadan.

The intervention materials produced by the University of Ibadan Chapter of the Union included over one thousand 100ml of hand sanitisers, sensitisation jingle in Pidgin and English languages, posters in three major languages and hand gloves.

While addressing the press at the University of Ibadan, ASUU President Professor Biodun Ogunyemi who was represented by the Zonal Coordinator of Ibadan Zone, Professor Ade Adejumo said the Union has made her members available to help in checking the menace of COVID-19.

Flanked by the Chairpersons of University of Ibadan and University of Ilorin, Professors Ayo Akinwole and Moyo Ajao respectively, the ASUU President called on Federal and State Governments to work with Nigerian scientists, researchers, epidemiologists to flatten the curve of the spread.

He maintained that Nigeria must do what China has done to reduce the ravaging effects of the virus.

“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. To demonstrate our concerns for the welfare and well-being of the Nigerian people, ASUU members nationwide shall be willing to work with medical and paramedical workers as volunteers in their public enlightenment and professional intervention initiatives. All our branches shall explore areas of strategic collaboration with federal, state and local governments to provide support in terms of information and expert skills drawn from our membership across the nation.”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 comity of civilized nations. With 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 government. Even with all the support, a functional healthcare system is only an evidence of a delectable educational menu serviced by contented academics and scholars at its zenith. See, for instance, how naked and empty our teaching hospitals turned out to be when threatened by the early wave of COVID-19. Yet, these are laboratories established to produce medical and paramedical personnel for our dear nation! Our aspiration for improved quality of life for Nigeria’s teeming population will remain a mirage for as long as the ruling class cannot see the ineluctable consequences of the neglect of university education for qualitative health services,” He stressed.

In his address, the Chairman, UI ASUU Professor Ayo Akinwole said despite being owed two months of salaries, the Union will not abandon her people through making interventions.

He said that the current predicament has further validated ASUU’s call for appropriate funding of public education and infrastructure.

According to him, the intervention materials will be distributed to University College Hospital, UCH, Ngerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, University health center, Oyo State Ministry of Health among others.

Akinwole maintained that a government who budgeted 46 billion for health in 2020 budget can now see that there is need to fund public health and education to be able to achieve national security.

“As part of the Nigeria crisis, occasioned by the bad governance and criminal abandonment of the constitutional responsibility of public purpose, it was not surprising that our health facilities were not equipped and staffed to respond to emergencies such as the Coronavirus pandemic otherwise called COVID-19. All kits donated by China Billionaire, Jack Ma foundation must be distributed to centres to conduct more tests while health workers and not Aso villa and their Ministers or National Assembly members should hijack this kits that they failed to make available when needed. ASUU has always argued against the underfunding of education and health. Nigerians should demand that government release funds to public hospitals to scale up their response for the disease. This can be done through the provision of funding support for laboratories in Nigerian universities to mass produce hand sanitisers, face mask and oxygen plants.
To demonstrate our concern for the welfare and well-being of the Nigeria people, ASUU members in teaching hospitals, colleges of medicines are already working to safe the country in their different levels of professional interventions. All our branches are ready to work with governments in any area of expertise needed. We urge government to make safeguard kits available to all health workers and our members who are toiling to safe the nation of preventable ills if the callous ruling class had invested rightly in the health sector.

It is not a shame that the entire budget the Muhammadu Buhari government committed to health in 2020 is N46 billion naira which translates to N300 naira to each Nigerian. Coronavirus has exposed the hypocrisy of this government and the lip-service it pays in delivering healthcare, just like those before it. Nigerians must demand for accountability on how the 1.1 trillion emergency fund released for the control of Coronavirus and demand how it is spent. Unless this is done we cannot trust the economic vampires not to divert the money into personal use and award contracts to their cronies.

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