The Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, on Saturday August 22, 2020, assured Nigerian students languishing at their homes that tertiary institutions across the country will reopen very soon.
Though he did not give a specific date for the re-opening, he said he would articulate the situation report from the National Universities Commission, NUC, and other regulatory bodies of various tertiary institutions and present to the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19 for evaluation.
Nwajiuba disclosed this during an NTA programme on ‘Nigeria Policy Brief on Education and COVID-19’, adding that he has received calls from private universities and public universities for reopening of tertiary institutions in the country.
“Tertiary institutions across the country will open very soon. Private universities have written us, requesting that they are allowed to reopen ahead of public institutions. Vice-Chancellors have also requested that we allow them to reopen for their students in exit clauses.
“We have also a lot of calls from bodies who want us to resolve the industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, before reopening because some public schools which are not ASUU-prone want to take the advantage of the strike to move ahead, but that would destroy our public schools. So, we are working on all these calls.
“NUC would need to do its appraisals and bring it to me. We are waiting for the same from other tertiary institutions bodies so I can situate them and present the PTF on COVID-19. I can’t give the NUC a deadline on this because our job at the ministry is to wait for their inputs. This is not a political decision alone.
“If you open the university system, you have opened the country. ASUU should call-off the strike because the issues they came on board with have been resolved, more or less. The body is making efforts to situate the visitation panel, though, that has to be gazetted and we are on it.
“The other request under the MoU which has not been done is the needs assessment but some of the projects have not been completed because many of the contractors didn’t finish the work they were asked to do. I Know ASUU is not recalcitrant because it is under pressure from the members too,” he said.