ASUU Strike: FG Withdraws Order Mandating Reopening Of Varsities

A photo collage of Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; and an empty classroom

 

The Federal Government has withdrawn the order mandating vice-chancellors of universities to reopen universities.

In a circular issued on Monday, the National Universities Commission (NUC), had mandated vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and governing councils to re-open federal universities following months of closure due to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s strike.

But on the same day, the NUC issued another circular, tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, in which it withdrew the order.

READ ALSOIndustrial Court’s Ruling Ordering ASUU To Call Off Strike (Full Details)

“I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 2022, on the above

Subject,” the circular, signed by the Director, Finance, and Account of the NUC, Sam Onazi, read.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities, are to please note.

“Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders. Please, accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”

The letter was tagged “Withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022”.

Below is a copy of the circular obtained by Channels Television:  

Before the order, the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja had ruled that ASUU should call off the strike, a move which the union rejected and had since filed an appeal.

The counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, based the appeal on 14 grounds.

FG Drags ASUU To Court, Says Talks Have Failed

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

 

The Federal Government has dragged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (AUU) to the National Industrial Court over the union’s ongoing strike which is in its seventh month.

In a statement on Sunday, the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said the Federal Government took the decision after dialogue between it and ASUU failed.

The government wants the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the court.

The referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court was dated September 8, 2022, and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

READ ALSO: Strike: SERAP Sues Buhari, Asks Court To Declare Refusal To Meet ASUU’s Demands illegal

The case is scheduled for mention at 9 am on Monday and the Federal Government is asking the court to determine whether the strike by ASUU is legal or not.

Also, the government wants the court to interpret in its entirety the provisions of Section 18 LFN 2004, especially as it applies to the cessation of the strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour and Employment and conciliation is ongoing.

Other requests made by the government to the court are:

“Interpret the provisions of Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8. LFN 2004, titled “Special Provision with Respect to payment of wages during Strikes and Lock-outs,” specifically dealing with the rights of employees/workers during the period of any strike or lock-out. Can ASUU or any other union that embarked on strike be asking to be paid salaries even with clear provisions of the law?

“Determine whether ASUU members are entitled to emoluments or “strike pay” during their period of strike, which commenced on February 14, 2022, more so in view of our national law as provided in Section 43 of the TDA and the International Labour Principles on the right to strike as well as the decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association on the Subject.”

“Determine whether ASUU has the right to embark on strike over disputes as is the case in this instance by compelling the Federal Government to employ its own University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the payment of the wages of its members as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) universally used by the Federal Government in the nation for payment of wages of all her employees in the Federal Government Public Service of which university workers including ASUU members are part of or even where the government via NITDA subjected ASUU and their counterpart UPPPS university payment platform system software to integrity test (vulnerability and stress test) and they failed.”

The Federal Government also wants the court to determine the extent of ASUU’s demand since the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) that the union signed with the government.

The demands include the funding for revitalisation of public universities as per the 2009 agreement, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) payments, state universities proliferation and constitution of visitation panels and release of a white paper on the report of the visitation panels.

The others are the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team for renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, which was renegotiated in 2013/2014, due for renegotiation in 2018/2019 and the migration of ASUU members from IPPIS to its own UTAS, which is currently on test at NITDA.

Atiku Will Not Handover Federal Universities To States – Paul Ibe

INEC Denying Atiku Access To Election Materials Despite Court Order, Says PDP
PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

 

Paul Ibe, the Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar has said that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not handover Federal Universities to state governments if he becomes president in 2023. 

Ibe who is media aide to the former Vice President, said the Atiku camp has noticed with dismay the mischievous misinterpretation of what the PDP flagbearer said at the plenary of the 62nd annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association as it relates to education and how to address the crisis in the sector.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku did not say that he will handover Federal Universities to state governments if he is elected president come February next year.

“The report is false, untrue, unfounded and not a true reflection of what Atiku Abubakar said while responding to a question on devolution of powers, a key component of his policy framework,” Mr Ibe argued in a statement on Monday.

According to the him, what the PDP presidential candidate referred to was his plans for a phased devolution of power to the federating units.


READ ALSO: ‘Why Proscribe IPOB And Not Miyetti Allah?’ – Soyinka On Farmer-Herder Crisis


“The report in some sections of the media is therefore a misleading and false account of what transpired when the PDP Presidential candidate fielded questions as a panelist at the opening ceremony of the NBA conference.

“In answering the question posed to him, Atiku Abubakar merely recalled his engagement with a university professor where he argued that the United States of America shared similarities with the first set of universities in Nigeria which belonged to the regional governments and noted that with proper planning and phased devolution of power, federal universities that have now become unwieldy could be made to work better under the component federating units. He also maintained that education would remain in the concurrent list under his administration when elected.

“The report was clearly a misleading one designed to cast aspersion on the person of the former Vice President and to create an impression that he will shirk his responsibilities if he is elected president in the next presidential poll due in February 2023.

“We wish to restate Atiku Abubakar’s avowed commitment to education as a game changer for socio-economic development and national security. He remains concerned about the prolonged strike by university teachers and restates his position that under his watch the ASUU-FG imbroglio will be better managed in the interest of both the students and academic staff.

“To underscore his commitment to address the structural deformities in our system, the former Vice President also disclosed that he had empanelled a committee of judiciary experts to draft a presidential position paper which will guide his administration, if elected, from day one, on the terms and conditions of transfer of power and resources to the other layers of government aimed at making the federal government leaner and more effective in its core functions,” Atiku’s spokesman explained.

He implored media organisations to be wary of unfounded stories in the course of carrying out their constitutionally guaranteed responsibility of informing, educating and entertaining the people.

Falana: ASUU Prepared To Call Off Strike If FG Implements Renegotiated Agreement

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 18, 2021.

 

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has once again spoken up about the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In a statement on Thursday, he ramped up his push for the Federal Government to take action to meet the demands of the striking lecturers and end the industrial action which started on February 14.

Less than 72 hours after he called on the Federal Government to submit a supplementary budget to appropriate N200 billion to revamp federal universities across the country, Falana is calling on the government to sign the renegotiated agreement with the union.

“Based on our consultation with the leadership of ASUU, we have confirmed that the entire members of ASUU are fully prepared to call off the strike as soon as the FG/ASUU Renegotiated Agreement is executed by the Federal Government,” said Falana, who is also the interim Chair of Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).

“In the circumstance, we are compelled to call on President Buhari to end the industrial action by directing the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu to execute the Renegotiated Agreement. The Agreement should be executed as soon as possible in the public interest.”


Related:

There Is No Collective Bargaining Agreement Between FG, ASUU – Ngige

Strike: Instead of Resolving The Problem, Ngige Is Busy Abusing His Colleagues – ASUU President


 

Falana detailed how the agreement was renegotiated and faulted the Minister of Labour and Employment for the delay in moving forward with it.

He said, “It is public knowledge that the Federal Government inaugurated the Renegotiation Committee headed by Professor Munzali Jubrin in December 2020.

“The Committee was saddled with the sole responsibility of addressing the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) pertaining to the task of revamping all federal universities in the country.

“After extensive consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, the Committee completed the national (assignment and) submitted a comprehensive report to the Federal Government in May 2021.

“Regrettably, the Agreement was not signed by the Federal Government 9 months after the submission of the said report. Hence, ASUU embarked on the current industrial action.”

He lamented that the strike has lasted for almost five months due to “the dissatisfaction of the Federal Government with certain aspects of the report of the Jibrin Renegotiate Committee”.

He continued, “Instead of ironing out the grey areas in the agreement the Federal Government turned round to set up another Renegotiated Committee under the leadership of Professor Nimi Briggs in March 2022.

“The Committee has also submitted its report to the Federal Government. Even though the Federal government and the ASUU have reached an understanding to call off the ongoing strike based on the execution of the report of the Briggs Committee, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, has announced the purported rejection of the report.”

According to Falana, available information shows the Federal Government has not authorised the Minister to reject the agreement and subject ASUU to a campaign of calumny.

“The implication of rejecting the report of the Briggs Renegotiated Committee is that the ASUU strike will continue indefinitely,” he said.

He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently expressed concern over the strike and called on ASUU to call it off saying that”enough is enough.

According to him, it would take the execution of the agreement for the union to heed the call.

Brain Drain: Reps Seek Automatic Employment For First Class Graduates

A file photo of the House of Reps.

 

The House of Representatives wants automatic employment for first class graduates from Nigerian institutions.

The House believes this will serve as motivation for Nigerian students and enable graduates to maximize their potential.

Representative Chinedu Martins, who moved the motion on Wednesday, said this will address the concerns of exporting the best brains to other countries.

While giving his presentation on the ‘Need to Grant Automatic Employment to First Class Graduates,’ Hon Martins stressed that Nigerian universities produce hundreds of first class graduates annually at the end of every academic year, adding that “a great percentage of them find it difficult to secure employment and contribute to nation-building”.

READ ALSO: Reps Reject Bill Seeking To Bar Public Officers’ Children From Studying Abroad

He lamented that the inability of many first class graduates to secure gainful employments has continued to force the nation’s brightest minds to flee the country, thereby, enriching the human resources of those nations, leaving the nation at a loss.

“According to research, Nigeria has continued to unwittingly give away her best brains and intellectuals to other countries who, by virtue of their robust policies on a value system, reward diligence and excellence as can be seen in the exodus of medical professionals from Nigeria to other countries.

“Reports have shown in seeking admissions to universities, students consider countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Australia, China, Canada as it increases their chances of being employed upon graduation,” Hon. Martins asserted.

The lawmaker argued that automatic employment for first class graduates will serve as a source of motivation for students to work harder. According to him, it will also help them to maximize their potential in preparation for different economic roles, future leadership positions, and ultimately reduce unemployment while helping the nation achieve its developmental goals.

Having heard Hon Martin’s case, the House adopted the motion and urged the Federal Ministry of Education to liaise with relevant government agencies to ensure employment for first class graduates of Nigerian Institutions.

The Reps also mandated its Committees on Tertiary Education and Services, and Labour, Employment, and Productivity to ensure compliance with the resolutions reached.

Strike: We Are Tired Of Govt’s Promises And Want Action – ASUU

ASUU says the Nigerian government is insincere.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) maintains that it will not back down on the current industrial action, accusing the Federal Government of not keeping to its promises. 

President of the union, Emmanuel Osodeke said this on Monday, more than two weeks after ASUU declared a one-month warning strike over the Federal Government’s inability to honour its agreement with the body.

“For the past nine years or so, they have been giving us promises but once the strike is over, they relapse,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

“So, our colleagues are tired of these promises which they don’t fulfill. What we want is actions,” the ASUU leader told Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

‘We’re Paid For Work Done’

According to him, members of the union have sacrificed for the country’s educational system, noting that many schools have not missed any academic year in spite of the strike actions by ASUU.

Osodeke explained that many lecturers have not gone on leave for years as they try to meet up with the calendar, debunking claims that varsity teachers are paid for doing nothing.

“Anybody who says ASUU is paid after strike, he is telling a lie. We are paid for the work done,” he said, maintaining that if the Federal Government had followed their own part of the deal, ASUU would not have gone on strike.

Despite complaints from Nigerian students that they are the ones who bear the brunt of the incessant strikes by the union, the ASUU president told them to hold the government responsible. He said unlike, in the past, the government has not properly funded education.

While admitting that the students have the right to protest what they believe is wrong, Osodeke said ASUU is not moved by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) planned protest.

“If the students are well-taken care of, they will not be talking about house rents because they will be staying in hostels. But today government has abandoned hostels. That is it. That is what the students should fight for. If all the students are staying in hostels, nobody would ask them to pay extra rent,” he said, calling on the government to do the needful.

Afghan Universities Reopen With Trickle Of Women Attending

Afghanistan flag

 

Some public universities opened in Afghanistan Wednesday for the first time since the Taliban seized power in August, with a trickle of women attending classes that officials said would be segregated by sex.

Most secondary schools for girls and all public universities were shuttered when the hardline Islamist group stormed back to power, sparking fears women would again be barred from education — as happened during the Taliban’s first rule, from 1996-2001.

“It’s a moment of joy for us that our classes have started,” said Zarlashta Haqmal, who studies law and political science at Nangarhar University.

“But we are still worried that the Taliban might stop them,” she told AFP.

Officials said universities in Laghman, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Nimroz, Farah, and Helmand provinces opened Wednesday.

More were scheduled to resume operations elsewhere in the country later this month.

An AFP correspondent saw just six women — wearing the all-covering burqa — enter Laghman University early Wednesday.

Taliban fighters guarded the entrance, a tripod-mounted machine gun resting on a boom gate.

One employee said classes would be segregated, with women taught in the mornings and men in the afternoon.

The Taliban have said they have no objection to education for women, but want classes to be segregated and the curriculum based on Islamic principles.

Wednesday’s reopening of some universities comes a week after a Taliban delegation held talks with Western officials in Norway, where they were pressed on improving the rights of women to unlock billions of dollars in seized assets and frozen foreign aid.

The halting of aid has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which has already been devastated by decades of war.

No country has yet recognised the new Taliban regime, which has promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power.

The regime has imposed several restrictions on women that have seen them banned from many government jobs.

The Taliban say all girls’ schools will reopen by the end of March

AFP

Afe Babalola Faults Establishment Of Universities By NASS Legislation

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola
A file photo of legal icon, Mr Afe Babalola.

 

Legal luminary, Afe Babalola, has faulted the establishment of universities by legislation, insisting that the National Assembly has no right to do so.

He made the comment in a ceremony to mark the 12th anniversary of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State on Tuesday.

The legal icon expressed concern that many substandard tertiary institutions have been established through such a process.

“The members of NASS have no right to pass a law to say [for instance that] Dr. Akinlade is allowed to set up a university in his hometown. These political universities are being established by so-called members of the house who will pass a motion to establish one single-subject university in their hometowns,” the founder of the university noted.

“And what happens? As soon as they leave, that’s the end of the universities. Today, we have more than 100 such so-called universities. ”

He insists that the National Universities Commission (NUC) is the authority saddled with the approval of universities.

Babalola urged the Ministry of Education and the NUC “to exercise their powers to checkmate this in the interest of quality education in the country”.

“Every attempt must be made by all stakeholders to put a lid on the establishment of political universities that hardly survive those who put them in place after they are out of power, otherwise there will be a crash in the quality of private universities,” he added.

NUC Directs Universities To Resume Academic Activities On January 18

A file photo of the NUC logo at the commission’s office in Abuja.

 

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has directed Vice Chancellors of universities to resume academic activities on January 18, 2021.

It explained that the instruction was given in line with the directive of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on the resumption of schools across the country.

NUC’s directive was contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Administration) of the commission, Mr Chris Maiyaki, on Friday.

In the statement issued on behalf of the NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, Maiyaki urged the universities to safeguard lives by strictly adhering to the extant safety protocols and the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on COVID-19.

He noted that the guidelines have been communicated on several occasions to university authorities through circulars from the commission.

The deputy executive secretary stated that on the resumption of academic activities, universities must under no circumstance violate the full cycle of the semester system, consistent with the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) approved by the NUC, as well as other extant quality assurance standards and guidelines.

He, however, said officers on Grade Level 12 and below have been advised to remain at home for a five-week period as earlier directed by the Federal Government.

Public universities in the country have been closed since March 2020 after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite strike that lasted about 10 months.

A lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19 also forced the students to remain at home.

Despite COVID-19 Threat, UK Universities Limit The Damage

Young men walk past Coventry University Library as they leave a campus building at the beginning of the new academic year, at Coventry University, in Coventry, central England on September 23, 2020. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP)

 

Poring over her books in the library at Coventry University, far from her home in Equatorial Guinea, Agnes Genoveva Cheba Ade is determined to keep up her studies despite coronavirus restrictions.

She admits that it has not been easy being abroad during a pandemic, with many courses moved online and socialising restricted — many other overseas students have been put off entirely.

But, like others in Britain, Coventry University in central England is confident it will weather the storm of Covid-19 and maintain its foreign students, who are a crucial source of income.

“I spent the pandemic away from my family so the isolation was even harder for me,” said Cheba Ade, a former Miss World contestant, who has been studying economic sciences at Coventry since 2017.

She told AFP: “I was struggling with anxiety, depression at times and I felt a little bit overwhelmed.”

But she added: “I’m from a humble family so, for me, being here today at university, being able to complete my course and get my degree… I think it’s really something I have to cherish every day.”

She added that university was “a new experience, a new way of living. I’m willing to learn and to adapt”.

– Virtual social life –

On campus, where classes resumed in mid-September partially online, reminders for students to maintain social distancing are everywhere.

Access to the library is one-way, the route is peppered with hand sanitiser stations, and students must reserve a place — then disinfect their workstation with the wipes provided.

Wearing a mask is encouraged but not obligatory.

Students’ social lives are also limited, with many welcoming events held virtually, which is a “challenge” for new arrivals trying to settle in, according to George Okata, a member of Coventry’s student body.

Britain has seen some 42,000 deaths in the coronavirus outbreak — the worst in Europe — and millions of people are under renewed local restrictions due to a surge in cases.

Up until now, Coventry University has not experienced the clusters of cases seen at other British universities, which — often after illegal parties — caused them to isolate hundreds of students.

– Charter flights –

Foreign students from outside the European Union pay significantly more than UK or EU students, and their fees are a major source of income for universities.

In Coventry, they normally make up one third of the 35,000-strong student body. The number of foreign registrations has halved this September.

However, provost Ian Dunn said many were taking up the option offered routinely by the university to start in January, or could even wait until May.

“Applications were very high and very strong but people are differing when they wish to start… January is looking positive,” he told AFP.

He added: “We’re a strong university, we have healthy reserves that allow us to weather particular storms like this.”

Despite pessimistic predictions that foreign student numbers might collapse this autumn, applications body UCAS has reported a nine-percent increase in international undergraduate admissions — although EU applications fell two percent.

However, this is not enough to relieve the pressure on universities, which have invested heavily in online learning and are also preparing for the end of the post-Brexit transition period in December.

Nick Hillman, from the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank, cautioned that registration data “doesn’t necessarily mean all those people will actually turn up”.

He also pointed out that a lot of international students were post-graduates, who were not included in the UCAS figures.

And, he told AFP, there was a “real worry that drop-out rates might go up this year, because when they (the students) get to university, their experience might not be quite what they expected”.

Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, noted that it was still unclear how many international students who had received offers would take up their places.

“We have a short window to convince undecided applicants that they can plan with confidence to study in the UK,” a spokesperson said in emailed comments.

Some institutions such as Queen’s University Belfast have decided to leave nothing to chance, chartering a flight to bring in hundreds of Chinese students, according to The Times.

AFP

Tanzania Reopens Universities Despite COVID-19 Concerns

Students of Al-Haramain secondary school learn social studies as they attend their first day of re-opened school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on June 1, 2020. – All universities and form six, the final grade, of secondary schools have resumed after the government closed all schools on March 18, 2020, to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ericky BONIPHACE / AFP.

 

Universities in Tanzania reopened on Monday, despite a lack of clarity on the spread of coronavirus after the government decided to stop updating figures in April.

As students entered dozens of campuses across Tanzania for the first time since mid-March, there were only cursory efforts to impose measures preventing the spread of COVID-19.

New hand-washing stations were spottily used while crowded lecture halls made a mockery of social distancing, leaving some students concerned.

“My parents were not happy to allow me back to the college, but there’s no way since it’s the government order to resume classes,” said Christopher Andrew, one of around 6,000 students at Dar es Salaam University College of Education.

In one lecture hall, a teacher admonished students after most removed their masks as they sat down.

“Next time, if you don’t wear a mask you will not get access to my class,” the lecturer warned.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: South Africans Rush to Liquor Stores As Booze Ban Lifts

Student Aisha Abdul said it was impossible to follow hygiene guidance.

“It’s difficult to sit a metre apart because the course has a lot of students and that means the space is not enough to comply with social distancing principles,” she said.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has consistently downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, and his government has not released official infection figures since April 29, when a total of 480 cases and 16 deaths had been recorded.

A government spokesperson said figures were not being released to avoid panic.

“Absence of data is actually my biggest worry,” said one concerned student, who did not want to be named. “If the trend shows decreasing cases then why should they worry to give us hope?”

“We are forced to believe that COVID-19 cases have dropped,” he said, adding that despite the uncertainty, “I need to finish my degree, so there’s no way I can dodge classes.”

Others, however, welcomed the reopening as a chance to see friends and get out of their homes.

“I was bored staying home. This is the moment I have been waiting for!” said Salha Juma, adding that he would “take precautions”.

The political opposition, foreign governments and activists have all criticised Tanzania for hiding information.

“It’s important we get complete and regular information so that we know the direction and can take relevant decisions,” said Onesmo Ole-Ngurumwa, national coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition.

AFP

Reps Ask FG To Set Up N15bn COVID-19 Emergency Fund For Tertiary Institutions

A section of some members of House of Reps at plenary on May 19, 2020.

 

The House of Representatives has called on the Federal government to set up a strategic N15billion Coronavirus Emergency Fund for Nigerian Universities and Tertiary Institutions as part of its response to the impact of the pandemic on academic, research and administrative operations.

The House made the call as part of its resolutions at plenary on Tuesday and in response to a motion moved by Hon. Steve Azaiki over the suspension of academic activities at tertiary institutions as a result of the COVID-19.

According to Azaiki, the structure of Nigeria’s university and tertiary institutions may never remain the same especially in the absence of an effective therapy or vaccine for the COVID-19 as well as mass testing and even a new strategic infusion of federal funding.

The rep member further explained that while school enrollment translates to revenue, this revenue may be cut short considering the short-term economic and social shocks of the ‘stay-at-home’ orders coupled with difficulties of containing the virus.

Azaiki further stated that there are estimates that universities and tertiary institutions will experience at least a 15% reduction in enrollment, as many students will likely decline and postpone their enrollment in the new session.

He also noted that many parents and guardians who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic may be unable to afford tuition for their wards to continue going to school and therefore, pursuing higher education may become a thing of luxury.

Among other things, Rep Azaiki raised concerns about the need to ensure the provision of appropriate student support scheme (COVID–19 Student Emergency Grant) for those affected by the impact of the pandemic physically, economically and mentally, especially the vulnerable students’ groups e.g. persons living with disabilities, students with trauma or mental health issues, refugees or displaced persons within the tertiary education system.

He made reference to the United States, saying that the government recently provided the sum of $14.3Billion for higher education, with $12.4Billion split between emergency grants to student and money to colleges for expenses directly related to coronavirus and the disruption of campus operations, as $1Billion would be targeted at historically black colleges and universities, while $300 million will be given to colleges most affected by coronavirus.

Hon. Ndudi Godwin Elumelu, Hon. Muktar Betara Aliyu, Hon. Fred Obua, Hon. Francis Ottah Agbo, Hon. Makwe Livinus, Hon. Umana Aniekan, Hon. Olaide Adewale Akinremi, Hon. Kabiru I.Tukura, and Hon. Mahmud Abdullahi Gaya all sponsored the motion.

Consequently, the House reached a resolution, urging the Federal Government to set up a strategic N15Billion Naira Coronavirus Emergency Fund for Nigerian Universities and Tertiary Institutions.

It also urged Nigerian Universities and Tertiary Institutions to launch a Coronavirus Student Emergency Fund, where indigent and vulnerable students can apply for student emergency grant to assist them recover from the economic impact of the COVID–19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the House urged the Government to immediately establish an Infectious Diseases Research Institute in six selected government universities across the six geo-political zones of the country, which will be given specific research funding by the FG.

They also called on the Federal Government to empower some special universities to build the capacity to do the required testing so as to meet up with the national demand on testing due to rising number of coronavirus cases.

As the world continues to seek solutions to the COVID-19, the reps urged the Federal Government to constitute a team that will comprise of representatives of the government, academia and relevant stakeholders to undertake a study tour to Madagascar and Senegal to explore the reported progress in indigenous research into a possible cure for the virus and bring back relevant knowledge to the country.