Nigerian varsities: Saddled with ageing infrastructure
by SAMUEL AWOYINFA (Lagos), MIKE ODIEGWU (Yenagoa), AKINWALE ABOLUWADE (Ibadan), MUDIAGA AFFE (Calabar), FEMI MAKINDE (Ekiti), SUCCESS NWOGU (Ilorin), and JAMES AZANIA (Edo)
Except for the new ones, the average public university in Nigeria is at least three decades old. Unlike old wines that mature with age, however, facilities in these tertiary institutions seem to age as the year passes, with many vice-chancellors promising to upgrade them. From our investigations, many of the universities lack basic infrastructure like regular water supply, sufficient accommodation, well-equipped libraries or functional rest rooms in the halls of residence or in lecture arenas. The story is the same all over, as reported bySAMUEL AWOYINFA (Lagos), MIKE ODIEGWU (Yenagoa), AKINWALE ABOLUWADE (Ibadan), MUDIAGA AFFE (Calabar), FEMI MAKINDE (Ekiti), SUCCESS NWOGU (Ilorin), and JAMES AZANIA (Edo).
The Lagos State University, Ojo, established by the Governor Lateef Jakande administration in 1983, has its own fair share of infrastructure challenges. Though it operates a multi-campus system, its main campus in Ojo has not experienced so much transformation since it was founded 29 years ago. It is still largely an off-campus university because the majority of the students either live in adjoining settlements like Iba, Okokomaiko, Volkswagen, Igando, among others; or come from far flung areas like Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Ikeja, Ogba, etc.
It has other campuses in Epe, Ikorodu Road; and another one housed at Progress College, Abule Egba, among others.
Until the management of the Zenith Bank Plc built an ICT Centre in the institution, the university has only one central library, which could not be classified as an E-Library. Admitting this, the school’s Acting Director of Information, Press and Public Relations, Dr. Sola Fosudo said the ICT Centre built by the bank had become a centre of attraction for students who go there to browse, do their assignments and carry out research via the Internet.
Again, the only department that could be said to be working towards having its own library is the Faculty of Law, housed in a new two-storey building.
Dearth of infrastructural facilities and decay of same where available, are noticeable in almost all the faculties. At the Faculty of Arts, the toilets that serve the students are in bad shape, as many do not have running water. The water closets in one of the toilets built on the open field very close to the L and H lecture rooms have darkened with use, while some of the lids are in various states of disrepair.
Out of the four toilets in this bungalow, three have no doors. And since water does not flow, a big plastic bowl is placed under a tap, which runs in epileptic mode, from which users could draw water for personal cleaning up and flushing.
Another toilets at LASU
Again, the two toilets that ought to serve the students in the L and H lecture corridors are under lock and key.
The toilets situated just outside the Department of Theatre Arts are shared between members of staff and students. The four-room rest rooms serving the students are waterlogged, with planks strategically placed on the floor to save users from dipping feet in the dirty water.
The two shower rooms looked disused, with their displaced wooden doors.
Some cleaners find refuge at the section reserved for members of staff, where they were seen having a siesta in the lobby.
The lavatories at the new Law Faculty are not better. The four-room toilet, located on the first floor very close to the lecture hall, is in a state of mess at the time of visit on Tuesday.
And because water is not flowing there, the entire toilet bowls are filled with faeces and urine. Even the terrazzo staircase is dirty, with the floor strewn with pure water sachets.
When asked to comment on the problem of water shortage, Fosudo merely retorts: “It is the director of works that can talk on that.”
At the Faculty of Science, which houses the departments of Fishery, Biochemistry and Zoology, most of the lecture halls are bare, as far as the stocking of equipment of science practicals are concerned. The Animal House situated close to the Biochemistry department looks disused without any animal in sight. And the toilets are not any better.
Fosudo says a new Faculty of Science building is under construction and when completed would be made up-to-date.
He says, “I think many of the past vice-chancellors were not forward-looking. Inasmuch as I am not out to denigrate anybody, some of them were not visionary in approach. Prof. John Obafunwa was the former Provost of LASU College of Medicine, and he is using the strategy he used to get things done at LASUCOM. He has a direct link with the seat of power at Alausa, and he gets them to execute the projects on the campus directly.”
University of Lagos: Insufficient accommodation, libraries and washrooms
The University of Lagos, established in 1962, also has its own share of infrastructural deficiency. This is much more pronounced in the area of insufficient accommodation for students in its halls of residence within the campus.
While some of the halls are as old as the school itself, the management of the institution might not have taken into account the increasing number of fresh intakes over time. From a modest intake of 131 students in 1962, enrolment has now grown to over 41,000 per session. In fact, a source in the information unit of the institution says the figure has climbed to 45,000 fresh students per session, which include full-time undergraduates, postgraduate students and the part-timers.
With about 15 hostels scattered across the campus, cases of overcrowding is prevalent in most of them, if not all.
The chairman of King Jaja hostel, Mr. Tosin Adesile, says the population of most hostels has ballooned, thus putting pressure on the available infrastructure.
“Between four and six students occupy a room meant for two. The one meant for four now houses eight or more; while the ones meant for between six and eight students generally house twice the official figure,” Adesile explains.
Adesile expresses concern that the school management has not been building new hostels, but is rather concerned with building multipurpose halls and theatre halls that could generate internal revenue.
He complains of dearth of lecture halls at the Mass Communication department where he is a student. Indeed, he says, regular students are sometimes asked to join part-time students in the evening for some courses.
One of the hostel managers who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity confirms Adesile’s claims, stressing that the managers of most hostels had made representation to school authorities on the need to build more hostels, but it has not yielded any result.
A hostel executive in Mariere Hall says though the hostel has its own problems, it is still better than what obtains in Sodeinde Hall, where he resided two years ago.
He says, “If you don’t wake up on time to use the washroom, you won’t be able to for the rest of the day. Everywhere would have been messed up. Then, anytime I woke up late, I headed for the mosque to clean up.”
Again, apart from the Faculty of Education, and the Department of Mass Communication which have their own libraries, the general library serves the generality of the students. But recently, according to the Assistant Registrar, Information Unit of the institution, Mr. Kingrobert Emukpoeruo, each department is being encouraged to set up its own library.
He also says the hostels are not overcrowded as claimed. “It is an offence punishable by expulsion for anyone to transfer his/or her room to any other person,” he says. He however could not provide the number of students expected to be accommodated in each room; while he says between 2000 and 2012, the school authorities have built three additional female hostels.
He also discloses that the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, has agreed to endow the university with a male hostel to be named after him, and also a female hostel which will be named after his wife.
Also, ongoing construction works within the campus will see to the provision of more lecture halls, office complexes and theatre halls, Emukpoeruo says.
In addition, he says the Prof. Adetokunbo Sofoluwe administration ensures power supply to the students at night, especially during examinations. “This costs fortunes, as we procure diesel whenever there is power outage.”
At King Jaja Hall of residence on Wednesday, scores of students invaded an open arcade just after the reception, with some brushing their teeth, and others washing their clothes.
Niger Delta University: In dire need of development
For the first time visitor, the entire Niger Delta University, situated on Wilberforce Island, Amasoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, may be mistaken for one of the new model secondary schools at worst; or, at best, a well-equipped faculty of a big federal university.
In fact, NDU which has remained the only functional university founded by the former Governor of the state, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, is in dire need of development. For one, it lacks the trappings expected of a university, especially in an oil-rich state like Bayelsa. Physical structures on the campus are inadequate, as some of the lecturers and administrative employees lack office accommodation.
Besides, lack of staff quarters compels academic and non-academic staff to seek accommodation in Yenagoa, the state capital, located about two hours to the campus. But travelling from Yenagoa to the campus is hectic, what with the unflattering state of the only road that leads to the university. Worse is the neglect of the bridges that were built in the colonial era, which dot the dilapidated road.
Road networks on the campus are inadequate. Some of them are so narrow that two vehicles cannot pass side by side. The concrete roads, especially the ones in male hostel, have begun to collapse, constituting danger to unsuspecting students who move at night.
Water supply is not constant on campus. A student, Mr. Wisdom, says the school authority pumps water with the aid of a generator every morning and evening. But he adds that whenever the generator which also supplies electricity to the campus breaks down, there will be no water.
The toilet facilities are relatively good but they lack maintenance. The water system of most of them has collapsed, making it impossible for users to flush after use. The situation becomes more life-threatening when water is scarce.
But Governor Seriake Dickson has said his administration’s policy on education includes upgrading the facilities in the university. In a statement signed by his Senior Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, he promises to make the institution the envy of other state universities.
University of Ibadan: Potty to the rescue
At the University of Ibadan, otherwise called the Premier University because it is the first to be founded in the country and therefore the oldest, the sanitary condition is fair but a bit worrisome. Most of the students who spoke with our correspondent complained that the toilets needed to be rehabilitated.
On Friday, most of the toilets are clean, but most of the facilities are either broken or disused.
A 400 level Petroleum Engineering student, who resides at Mellamby Hall (name not given) says, “Most of the male toilets in the hostels are not too good, though the toilets in Mellamby are far better when compared to what obtains in other halls. But generally, the state of toilets is pitiable.”
The situation of the toilets on the ground floor of Mellamby Hall is unsanitary. Perhaps that is why it is usually referred to as ‘The Dungeon.’ The same goes for the lavatories in residential halls such as Zik, Independence, Kuti, Bello and Tedder, which students say are in desperate need of repairs.
Water is not running in most of the toilets. A student, Yinka (surname withheld) says, “The water system is not good and the toilets stink. A lot of students don’t like to be accommodated close to the toilets because they always stink.”
Water flows in most of the toilets at Mellamby, but the situation is not the same in other hostels, as students have to travel a distance to obtain water for use in the washrooms. “That is why you find them littered with faeces,” Yinka says.
At C Block, water flows sporadically; but at D Block, it flows well, though the water system is bad at A Block. The toilets are the worse for it.
A 400 level Geography student resident at Idia Hall (name not given) blames the poor sanitary condition of the toilets partly on the school authority and the students. She says, “You rarely meet any of the toilets clean because there’s no water. Many use potty instead of sitting directly on the toilets for fear of infection. Even if the place is kept clean, many female students won’t use it for fear of infection.”
One of the problems in the female hostel is that of poor drainage system. A student, Tonia, says the toilets are always dirty and waterlogged. “The facilities require some maintenance,” she concludes.
A 300 level Adult Education/Political Science student says the situation of the hostel toilets is nothing to write home about. “When cooking, we shut the door because of bad odour from the toilets. They clean up the toilets every day except on Saturdays and Sundays, but the facilities are bad. Help us to appeal to the authorities. There is nothing we can do. They always intimidate us with Students Disciplinary Committee and nobody wants to be expelled from school,” she says.
The Director of Public Communications, University of Ibadan, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, says the school authorities have constituted a committee to go round the campus to assess the damaged infrastructure.
“This is being done with the intention of refurbishing all damaged infrastructure. The rainstorm in Ibadan, last week, affected some infrastructure in the school, especially at Idia Hall. The vice-chancellor has assured the university community of his administration’s readiness to fix the damaged facilities.
“However, we urge students to ensure adherence to hygiene and to bear with the school authorities pending the rehabilitation of the facilities,” Oladejo says.
Calabar: Electricity problems, massive upgrade of facilities
The major higher institutions in Cross River State are undergoing major infrastructural upgrade, courtesy of the state and Federal governments.
Variously at the University of Calabar, Cross River State University of Technology in Calabar, the College of Education in Akamkpa and the School of Health Technology, Calabar, the level of upgrade has reached 95 per cent.
But our correspondent observes that the problem of electricity supply is one that is peculiar to some of the institutions.
At UNICAL, as a result of students’ rampage which led to the destruction of most infrastructures in August 2011, the university authorities have embarked on massive renovation of virtually all the office accommodation and the students’ hostels.
A visit to eight out of the 10 hostel structures in the institution shows that the facilities have just been renovated while water supply is constant.
Although the authorities made each student to pay N10,000 for the destruction, the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. James Epoke, says the Federal Government donated additional N30m to the university to aid the repair work.
But a student who craves anonymity says before the riot, virtually all the hostel infrastructure had collapsed, adding that it was the riot that forced the school authorities to embark on the renovation.
The Public Relations Officer of UNICAL, Mr. Effiong Eyo, says the infrastructure upgrade has been grouped into different phases, adding that all the hostels and administrative blocks and lecture rooms would receive facelift.
At the College of Education, Akamkpa, apart from the bad road network within the school environment, the untidy state of the male and female hostels might constitute health challenges if not checked.
The school has one building each as male and female hostels respectively, and they accommodate 540 males and females respectively. A student in the institution says water and electricity supply is regular.
But in a recent interview, the Provost of the institution, Prof. Owan Eno, says the infrastructure upgrade of the institution will be carried out in phases, adding that so far, the state government has been consistent in financing the project.
The situation at CRUTECH in Calabar is not different from that of UNICAL, where infrastructures have just been renovated.
Ekiti Varsity: Lacks basic facilities
The Ekiti State University is three decades old, but it still lacks some basic facilities, including functional toilets for students and staff.
Some of the students who speak with our correspondent, especially the female, lament shortage of good toilets. Some of them say using the toilets in the 30-year-old university is an adventure they dare not venture into because of the fear of contracting infectious diseases.
A female student, Odun, narrates how one of her friends at the Faculty of Social Sciences who was suffering from intestinal disorder messed up himself while trying to run into a nearby bush to ease himself.
“He had diarrhoea and came to school because we had a test. He became hard pressed and he ran into the bush but unfortunately, he messed himself up before he could get there. His male friends had to go back to the hostel to bring him a fresh pair of trousers.”
Another female student in Science Laboratory Technology Department says toilet facilities are better at the new site (former University of Science and Technology, Ifaki campus), where the department is located.
She says only staff members have access to toilets at the main campus of EKSU.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oladipo Aina, at a pre-convocation press conference he addressed two weeks ago says the university is trying hard to address the problem of shortage of rest rooms on the campus.
He says some industrial boreholes have just been sunk to provide water to the university community. He adds that more boreholes will be sunk soon to tackle the twin problem of water shortage and lack of good lavatory facilities.
While lamenting inadequate supply of electricity in the institution, the VC says the university will be connected to the national grid in the next two weeks.
The institution is also exploring ways of boosting its electricity supply with solar energy, he says.
Unilorin and KWASU: Pass mark
The University of Ilorin and Kwara State University exemplify higher institutions with good facilities. While KWASU is still relatively new and its infrastructure is still being developed, UNILORIN seems to have appreciable level of infrastructure.
For one, power supply has improved, and a dam has been built to supply water to the teeming university community. The institution also embarked on aggressive upgrade of toilet facilities, which a student, Miss Mulikat Adeola, says are of high standard and are always cleaned up.
On Wednesday during a visit, the toilets are clean, with constant water to flush. Also, there are full-tile cleaners to ensure that the toilets are clean.
The Deputy Director, Information, UNILORIN, Dr. Mahfouz Adedimeji, and the Senior Information and Protocol Officer, Mrs. Hamidat Yusuf, in various interviews say the school has over 120 toilets which are regularly cleaned. Prior to the renovation of the toilets about four years ago, students were barred from sharing washrooms with lecturers or other officials. The system has changed, Adedimeji says, as the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, insists that students should have access to all the lavatories, including those being used by lecturers.
Adedimeji explains that the institution has its own water system – a dam which supplies water to the entire campus. There are more than 40 toilets in the faculties, and in each faculty, there is a toilet complex. A single toilet facility has between five and seven wash hand basins, and the entire campus boasts of over 130 toilets.
A first year student of Business Administration at KWASU, Adeleye Rilwan, confirms the availability of good and clean toilets. He however says sometimes, the school witnesses power outage, which standby generators instantly take care of.
Ambrose Alli Varsity: Sad reminder of bad infrasructure
The recent tragic incident that occurred at the Edo State-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, leading to the death of two female students while five others sustained serious bodily injuries are a sad reminder of the dilapidated state of social infrastructures in tertiary institutions across the country.
The accident at AAU, which was occasioned by the caving-in of a well, jolted Nigerians to the bad state of infrastructure in tertiary institutions. It was after the disaster had occurred that the public got to know that students relied on underground storage rain water for their water needs.
Edo State has one federal university and no less than three state-owned ones, virtually all of which are in dire need of funds to upgrade facilities.
The Faculty of Law building in AAU has become so fragile that students and lecturers alike fear it could collapse any time. The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Agatha Eguavoen, told Governor Adams Oshiomhole this much during a parley with academic staff on Wednesday.
Other buildings, including the main auditorium, have the same structural defects, while conveniences are worse off, as students resort to the bush when nature calls.
The story is the same at the University of Benin and the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, though the new management in both federal institutions has, of late, embarked on improving the facilities.
UNIBEN’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin and the Rector, Auchi Polytechnic, Dr. Phillipa Idogho, have at various times been commended for their efforts at improving the state of infrastructure in their various institutions.
And, while noticeable efforts are seen in both cases, the disaster at AAU appears to have gingered the state government, which recently released over N200m to the institution to rehabilitate old facilities and build new ones.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole says, “To me, AAU needs over N200bn to reposition it. Those who allowed the construction of an underground water storage tank that collapsed on students ought to be tried for involuntary murder.”