The National Universities Commission (NUC) said it is collecting data from universities to assess their readiness for resumption of academic activities.
The commission also said efforts are ongoing to resolve the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) that threatens to further delay the resumption of academic activities in the universities.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, said this during a press conference on the contributions of Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19 in Abuja on Tuesday.
Nigeria closed its tertiary institutions along with lower schools in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Adamu, who was represented at the event by the deputy executive secretary Academics, Suleiman Yusuf, said the Commission is working with universities to discuss preparation that should be in place before reopening.
According to him, universities not under ASUU watch can go back to classes once they have put the necessary guidelines in place.
“We gave a template to vice-chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies they are putting in place in the various institutions. We are collecting some of the responses which have already started coming in and at the end of the day the picture should emerge about the extent to which our universities are prepared to reopen for academic activities,” he said.
ASUU commenced its warning strike on March 9 and declared an indefinite strike on March 23.
ASUU is embarking on the strike over the non-payment of salaries of their members who failed to enrol into the federal government’s IPPIS, a payroll software mandated for all public officials.
Mr Rasheed said over 32 universities in the country are involved in research aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the performance of the African Centres of Excellence has proved that world-class research and development work is possible in Nigeria.
“Particularly, the Centre for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the University of Cambridge and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre and the other ACES in ABU, BUK, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNIPORT and UNIJOS that also served as national testing and screening centres have proved that world-class Research and Development work is possible in Nigeria,” he said.
He said a compendium put together by the Commission showed Nigerian universities are making contributions to development.
”University of Jos which is leading in herbal and natural product development could do more if the federal government releases more funds to such institutions for research purposes.
“As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges. Only a few institutions have been able to utilise the open and distance learning system to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only few laboratories continued with research and development activities,” he said.
Newsmen reported how the federal government in June advised tertiary institutions in Nigeria to put preventive measures against COVID-19 in place before they announce their re-opening.
The preventive measures include installing hand-washing facilities, equipment for body temperature checks and others.