The National Coordinator of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), Dr ‘Niyi Sunmonu has announced on Saturday, August 29, 2020, that tertiary institutions are prepared to recommence with activities.
Sunmonu disclosed this to journalists in a statement released after the National Executive Council meeting in Lagos on Saturday. He commended the Federal Government to reopen tertiary institutions and put in place infrastructure and COVID-19 procedures that would enable the reopening of institutions.
It would be recalled that in March, all institutions of higher learning were urged to suspend academic activities to cab the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. However, Sunmonu announced that: “CONUA members are ready to resume work. Everything necessary in terms of COVID-19 protocols must be put in place before reopening the universities in order to prevent students and staff from contracting the disease.
“The education sector cannot continue to stagnate. As it appears, COVID-19 would continue to be a threat and we must, in the circumstances, learn to strive to lead our normal life. The Union urges the government to make available everything that can help our universities to resume work as it is being done elsewhere in the world.”
The coordinator said the CONUA has condemned the threats and harassment of some of its members by some university managements and other unions within the university system. He also noted that freedom of association as embedded in the Nigerian constitution, a provision which permitted every academic the freedom to join any union of their choice.
“No amount of molestation or vilification can take the union away from the path of progressive unionism. Adequate measures, as far as the law and constitutions of Nigeria permits, will be taken against anyone who is using intimidation or employing any other odious means to threaten our members,” added Sunmonu.
Furthermore, he applauded university managements which held gatherings to uphold academic staff members amid the coronavirus lockdown. The union received information that some institutions held Senate meetings and Congregation votes but rejected to arrange any meeting to carry out the promotion of its members, simply because some people threatened that such promotions if ever stated, will be reversed.
“CONUA leadership feels outraged by such pronouncements and expresses its resolve to support any efforts by university administrations to facilitate the due promotion of academic staff members,” he added.
Reports revealed that CONUA was an association of lectures from five universities following cracks in the Association of Senior Staff of Universities (ASUU). The new Union was reportedly announced at the end of its stakeholders’ forum at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in October 2019.
The members of the new union were Obafemi Awolowo University, lle lfe; Ambrose Alii University (AAU), Ekpoma; Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE); Federal University, Lokoja (FUL) and Kwara State University (KWASU), Molete. Sunmonu revealed that the union was formed for the standard of education to be very high and for a stable academic calendar.