The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, has said that the strike embarked on by the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) does not affect researches into COVID-19 pandemic.
He said researches were ongoing in the universities despite the fact that lecturers had downed tools in the universities. He stated this during a press briefing in Abuja Tuesday.
Represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Academic) of NUC, Dr Suleiman Ramon -Yusuf, Professor Rasheed said NUC had made modest contributions to covid-19 fight which are shown in its compendium, titled, “Ongoing Contributions of Nigerian Universities to National Response to COVID-19.”
He said Nigerian universities’ usefulness was brought to the fore as exemplified by their modest contributions covid-19 fight which are verifiable.
Also Rasheed said plans were underway to reopen the nation’s universities after months of closure as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the Nigeria.
He said NUC said was collating data on the assessment of the level of preparedness by the various universities through their vice-chancellors to determine if institutions were safe for resumption to both academic and non-academic activities.
The Commission said 32 universities in the country were carrying out researches on drugs and vaccines for the dreaded coronavirus in the country.
He said so far, a number of vice chancellors had submitted their reports on the level of their readiness to the commission.
Rasheed, said the briefing was meant to showcase the ongoing contributions of Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19. He however, said that the expected reopening could be marred by the strike in the nation’s public varsities, though efforts were on to find a permanent solution to the never-ending industrial action in the universities.
“We have a template to vice-chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies are they putting in place in the various institutions.
“We are collating 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.
University of Jos, he said, was leading in herbal and natural product development, stressing that the institution could do more if the federal government releases more funds to her 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 open and distance learning systems to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only a few laboratories continued with research and development activities.
“Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organised national research and innovation system to catalyse the national response,” he said.
“The performance of the African Centres of Excellence, 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.”
“They demonstrate how the Nigerian University System can be readily effective and relevant to national development if research is valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators, including students.”