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COVID-19 Toll: No Plan To Sack Workers, Says KWASU VC

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By Steve Oni, Ilorin

The Vice-Chancellor, Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Professor Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi, has clarified that the institution has no plan to sack any of its staff despite the economic downturn being witnessed in the country occasioned by the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, which has also taken its toll on universities and other tertiary institutions.

The clarification, he said, became imperative amid the sacking of several workers in private universities and other individually owned institutions in the country following outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

It would be recalled that the pandemic had caused a nationwide lockdown of activities and consequently precipitated the closure of universities and other institutions.

Addressing journalists in Ilorin at the ‘News Keg’ programme of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kwara State Council, the Vice Chancellor lamented that the pandemic had caused serious financial crisis in most of the privately owned institutions, thereby forcing them to reduce their workforce.

Akanbi, however, insisted that KWASU would not toe the painful path of sacking workers being a public university, adding that they had written a proposal to the CBN to fund their agriculture programme as, he said, “we plan to go into large scale farming so as to be able to augment our finances and also assist our host and other communities.”

“There is hardly an institution in Nigeria that is not in financial mess as we speak, and the truth is that we didn’t see it (COVID-19) coming. So, we were not prepared for it, and it is affecting the universities. The private universities now are sacking and actually terminating employment. We cannot do it in the public university and we won’t do it in KWASU.

“But the earlier we go back to schools, the better for all. I believe that we should just learn to live with this (COVID-19) by complying with government directives and safety protocols by relevant authorities, the federal government should allow universities and other institutions to reopen for classes immediately”, the KWASU boss said.

Akanbi, who also spoke on the preparations of the institution for post COVID-19, disclosed that the National Universities Commission (NUC) had directed universities including KWASU to submit briefs on the state of their preparedness for reopening of schools.

He noted that his institution had planned to fumigate all its facilities ahead of resumption of students, adding that the institution would also ensure that they adhere strictly to all COVID-19 safety protocols.

The Professor of Law said their plan was to ensure policy oriented research that would ultimately offer solutions to existing challenges in the society, adding: “By the time I’m leaving after five years, I want to bequeath a system for the institution to be self sustaining financially without taking any loan for its operations”.

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