From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has, following the federal directive that all schools in Nigeria resume on Monday, January 18, urged the Federal Government to provide COVID-19 support fund for universities and polytechnics to combat the infection.

NANS National President Sunday Asefon said such a fund would help tertiary institutions to procure precautionary facilities to stem the tide of the pandemic.

In a statement in Ado-Ekiti on Friday, Asefon expressed joy over the compromise reached by the Federal Government and stakeholders that schools should resume, describing this as a long-awaited respite for students.

The Association’s president stated that the landmark decision would help in relieving the students, who have been home for nine months, of the burden of being put in abeyance for long now that there is hope in sight.

‘Now that the Federal Government had reached a compromise that the schools should reopen, the second phase should be how to help the schools to get the requisite precautionary facilities to tame the spread of COVID-19 disease,’ Asefon said.

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‘As much as it has become expedient for schools to reopen, it would also be foolhardy to take the issue of safety with levity, because such could also create a crisis in the system in future.

‘Under this confounding situation, the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency give COVID-19 support fund to all tertiary institutions to purchase facilities that can guarantee the safety of students and lecturers.

‘NANS, as the umbrella body for all students, won’t tolerate carnage on campuses on account of COVID-19 infection.

‘Taking cognisance of the veracious information at our disposal, only the private universities and polytechnics have prepared solidly to receive students in strict compliance with COVID-19 safety measures. Such is still lacking in our public schools.

‘That is where the Federal Government should intervene to ensure a smooth take-off of academic activities after a long-drawn battle with COVID-19.’

Asefon also cautioned school managements against opportunistic actions, resorting to imposition of arbitrary charges under the facade of COVID-19, saying procurement of facilities should be the responsibility of the Federal Government.