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By Ridwan Fasasi

The Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), a Civil Society Group, has decried full resumption of academic activities by educational institutions across the country without adequate safety measures to contain the devastating impacts of the second wave of COVID-19.

The National Coordinator of NDD, Mr. Tajudeen Alabede who made the call in a maiden virtual press conference of the group on the state of the nation said it was discomforting that governments have not gone beyond merely issuing statements encouraging schools to observe COVID-19 protocols leaving the hapless students, pupils and staff to their fate as adequate safety measures were not put in place by the Federal and State Governments to contain the spread of the disease.

He noted that instead of
general resumption, there could have been a well-co-ordinated phased resumption in a way that would prevent overcrowding in the institutions.

“The consequences of poorly regulated resumption plans amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 may be catastrophic.
“Nigeria has witnessed a devastating impact of the second wave of COVID-19,
including the death of some high-profile citizens in the past few weeks. NDD is,
therefore, alarmed by the plans by educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities without adequate safety measures.

“NDD considers this inappropriate as the primary duty of any government is the security and wellbeing of the citizens”.”It is an irony that, while the plan for schools to resume is moving at a high speed,
the same governments are vigorously campaigning against large gatherings.

“That this is taking place against the background of insecurity across the country makes it all the more indefensible. What NDD expects is for the Government at all levels to regard COVID-19 as a
national emergency which would demand that affected sectors are provided with
all the necessary support that they need to cope with the impact of the pandemic”, he counselled.

“In the minimum, Government should consider providing facilities for virtual classes,deploying health and security personnel to schools to handle emergencies,
providing hand sanitisers and masks to students and staff, providing testing
facilities for compulsory testing of all students and staff and setting up isolation centres in all Local Governments. We commend University of Ilorin and a few other institutions that have properly articulated their phased resumption plans.

“The education sector embraces the largest percentage of citizens – from kindergarten to postgraduate classes. It is a sector that is most affected by COVID-19 pandemic”.

He noted that for almost a year that the country has been battling with COVID-19, the nation is yet to take advantage of the
pandemic and its attendant negative effects to radically overhaul the affected
sectors, especially, education, health and agriculture, with a view to bringing them
in compliance with the new realities.

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