By Dayo Adesulu, Anayo Okoli, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Egufe Yafugborhi, Ola Ajayi, Monsurudeen Olowoopejo, Elizabeth Uwandu,Emmanuel Unah, Chinonso Alozie, Davies Iheamnachor, Harris Emmanuel Chioma Onuegbu and Ike Uchechukwu
FINDINGS have shown that lack of infrastructure, especially accommodation, has remained one of the major challenges facing many universities across the country. Indeed, most campuses of tertiary insitutions are replete with decayed infrastructure such as hostels, lecture halls and roads. It is one of the issues which have continued to trigger students protest in both Federal and State universities.
Though the students sometimes exhibit youthful exuberance, most of their agitations are predicated on their welfare and living conditions. In most universities, the living conditions of these students leave much to be desired.
Although, students’ accommodation is an integral part of students’ personnel management, on-campus accommodation has not received adequate attention, rather it has been characterized by inadequate maintenance. This situation is rather disheartening since students need comfortable accommodation in order to conveniently carry out their primary objective of learning.
There have been reported cases of students taking ill in hostels as a result of poor sanitary conditions.
Hostel at Uniport
The on-campus residence is provided by the institution within its premises, to cater for its students, while the off-campus residence are mostly private hostels and other forms of accommodation where students reside in exchange for a fee.
There are two public universities in Lagos State, the University of Lagos, UNILAG, and Lagos State University, LASU.
UNILAG has three campuses located in the Mainland of Lagos. From a modest intake of 131 students in 1962, enrolment in the university has now grown to over 40,000. The University’s staff strength is 3,365 made up 1,386 Administrative and Technical, 1,164 Junior and 813 Academic Staff.
Over the years, the University has been providing accommodation to a reasonable percentage of its student population. Our findings revealed that over 6,000 students are accommodated in its 13 halls of residence. These include virtually all foreign students who applied for accommodation.
The priority order for allocation into the halls of residence is as follows: final year students, students’ union executives, foreign students, sportsmen and women, and first year students.
The University’s off-campus accommodation policy is’ applicable to all 2nd Year students. Nevertheless, both residential and non-residential students enjoy common on-campus facilities of catering, sports and recreation, Clubs and associations and health services.
However, when our correspondent visited the institution, it was discovered that the halls lacked proper facility management. Aside that the rooms were well ventilated there were obvious lapses in other simple activities, including waste collection, that were needed in each hall.
Though the halls were painted, however the beautification could not prevent visitors from noticing the lapses on the building, from the faulty water pipes that had continued to spill water on the buildings.
Olatunji Muiz, an old student told Vanguard: “The rooms are not conducive for habitation. For instance the doors are bad and the institution has not made any plans to replace them. Also, the toilets are another issue entirely because they are not well kept. I stayed at Mariere Hall, each floor has 18 rooms with eight toilets. And the toilets need upgrading.
“The N25,000 hostel fee is not justifiable. Four students are asked to stay in an apartment which had never been renovated. All they did annually is to change the mattresses and fumigate the house. And you hear them say they have carried out renovation.”
According to him, “what has continued to attach some students to the hostels are basically two things, water and power supply, aside these, it does not worth living.”
“At the Master level, the fee is N65, 000. Though in their hostel, the standard is a bit higher than the undergraduate. Because they are the lowest on the ladder, they tend to bear the brunt.”
Efforts to reach the university’s Principal Assistant Registrar, Communication Unit, Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, was unsuccessful at press time, as several calls made to her phone were not returned.
In LASU, the university caters for a population of over 35,000 students enrolled full-time. Presently, it has no accommodation for its students.
LASU was conceived as a non-residential urban university.
It is reported that the female hostel accommodation in the school is being done through balloting and the only hostel in the institution, dubbed Female Hostel, is currently undergoing renovation.
Presently, students have sought alternative accommodation around the institution. Some are currently squatting with colleagues, while others relocated to living with relations within the environment. It was gathered that the least decent off-campus standard accommodation goes for N120,000 per annum in the area, while a room cost N50,000.
In his reaction, the Coordinator, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, LASU, Mr. Ademola Adekoya said efforts were being made to address it.
“We are aware of the accommodation issue of our students. And you are aware that Lagos State government had pledged to build a 6,000 bed capacity in the campus. We are still expecting that promise to be fulfilled.
“It is just for them to start the foundation. Unfortunately, it has not started, maybe the new administration will kick start it. We are not happy about the delay,” he stated.
Cross River State
The University of Calabar and the Cross River State University of Technology are the two universities in Cross River State.
The University of Calabar which has a large population of students of about twenty thousand with many of them coming from different parts of the country, has a number of blocks which serve as hostels. On the other hand, the Cross River State University of Technology whose students are predominantly from within the state has just a block each dedicated to female and male students for accommodation.
At Unical, hostels built in the 80s where majority of the students lived is called Malabo. The harsh living conditions there have made it synonymous with suffering. The name, Malabo is derived from the capital of Equatorial Guinea having served as a camp for Nigerians deported from that country in the seventies.
In Malabo, there are three hostels for male students: halls 4, 5 and 6. It was until recently that hall 6 was rehabilitated and transformed to a female hostel adding it to halls 8 and 9 which are for female students.
A peep into halls 4 and 5, the male blocks reveals a nauseating environment which can hardly make life convenient for learning. The rooms are congested, the beds are old and dilapidated, broken sewage pipes, bathrooms are without doors, toilets are overflowing with faeces and the floor is covered with slime.
Chibuike, one of the students said: ‘’In each room, we have four bed spaces and each is a double bunk. On each bed, you find about four or five students and each floor has over one hundred rooms with just ten toilets. Don’t forget some of the toilets like the ones on the ground floor have been under lock and key for many years now because they are bad”.
He said in the morning during what he calls, ‘rush hour,’ students have to queue for long periods before having access to the toilets and bathrooms.
“These hostels were built in the eighties when the student population was very low and over the years, there have been no improvement in these facilities and the ones that are here are hardly maintained”.
‘’The population of female in the school is higher which accounts for the school authorities changing of hall six to female hostel to accord the females more bed spaces.’’
The two federal and state universities in Osun State University of Ibadan and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH.
For LAUTECH, it has no accommodation provision for its students. A female students said: ‘’There is no single hall of residence on campus. We have to sort out things for ourselves since there is no accommodation directly built by the school management.”.
At the University of Ibadan, there are ten halls of residence for both undergraduate and post graduate students. Due to their large number, eight of them are allocated to the undergraduates while the remaining two are for the post graduate. The halls for the undergraduates are Nnamdi Azikwe Hall, Independence Hall, Ahmadu Bello Hall, Tedder Hall,
Mellamby Hall, Kuti Hall, Queen Elizabeth 11 Hall, Queen Idia Hall while Obafemi Awolowo and Abdulsalami A. Abubakar Halls are for postgraduate students.
When Vanguard went round some of the halls of residence, it was observed that majority of them are being renovated. Halls visited include Queen Idia, Queen Elizabeth, Independence, Nnamdi Azikwe, Kuti, Tedder and Mellanby. All these halls except Queen Elizabeth are wearing new look.
IMSU, is a state owned tertiary institution with a non-residential hostels.
It was gathered in Owerri that thousands of it’s students have been faced with difficulties of paying for accommodation outside the school premises, which are not regulated.
As such, some of them claimed they had to pay between N100,000 to N120,000 above depending on the quality and proximity of the House to the location of the institution.
To this extent, Vanguard called the Public Relation Officer, PRO, Obi Njoku, who said that the ongoing construction of the hostel buildings have reached 95 percent completion and that soon, it will be completed and commissioned.
Reports reaching Vanguard revealed that at University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT, every student in the hostels relies on own toilet bucket.
With age and inadequate maintenance telling on the infrastructure, hostels at the University of Port Harcourt, are not in the best of shape as in most public schools across the nation.
At the Abuja axis of the main campus where most of Uniport’s hostels are clustered, the first thing you notice is that they are unkempt, water systems and toilet facilities defective and hygiene consequently compromised.
A 200 Level Finance and Banking Student in one of the hostels told Vanguard, “It’s a helpless situation we all have to bear. A major challenge is that we all live under broken down water system in virtually all the hostels here.
“The hostel walls and ground are messy and smelling, so much you find people catching malaria and fever often because the places are so mosquitoes friendly and windows not netted.”
A 300 Level Theatre Art student at the Dan Etete Hostel said, “The toilet and bathrooms are no go areas. Some of us, students don’t help matters too. Because water doesn’t flow in the toilets and bathrooms, some just go in, mess up the place and don’t flush it.
“To avoid contacting toilet diseases, the trend is virtually every hosteler own a toilet bucket. When pressed, you go in and you don’t sit on the WC. You drop it on your water prepared toilet bucket and pour it into the WC when you are done.
“There is need for provision of more hostels though, but there’s also greater need for regular power supply to the hostels. Many times, when supply gets really epileptic, students have to trek slavish distances to lecturers quarters or other places to fetch water.”
The situation was no less piteous at the Rivers State University and sister Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, both also in different Port Harcourt localities when paid facility inspection visits.
Akwa Ibom State
Hostel accommodation is a challenge in AkwaIbom public universities
Our findings shew that the Male and female hostels at the town campus (UNIUYO) within Uyo, the state capital are relatively old such that some students even preferred to live off campus.
At the permanent site, University of Uyo UNIUYO, (federal) Nwaniba in Uyo local government area, has two hostels, one for female and one for male students (30 rooms capacity of 4bedspace for each) all bungalows.
These two hostels called presidential hostels according to investigation are occupied mostly by Engineering students because they were the first faculty to relocate to the site.
Majority of the students of Faculty of Sciences stay off campus due to lack of accommodation on campus.
During a visit to the Akwa Ibom state University (AKSU) Ikot Akpaden main campus in Mkpat Enin local government area and Obio Akpa, Annex campus in Oruk Anam LGA, however it was observed that the two campuses of the state University does not have hostels for students.
It was observed that the students stay off campus and most of the buildings owned by private individuals are not far away from the school.
It was gathered that Obio Akpa community leaders during a recent stakeholders meeting had suggested that government should build hostels for students inside the campus.
Many students in public universities in the predominantly riverine Bayelsa State depend on hostels on campus because of the cost implication when compared to accommodation off campus.
From the Bayelsa owned Niger Delta University, NDU in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area to the Federal University, Otuoke, FUO, in Ogbia Local Government Area, the condition of hostels accommodation are almost the same.
It was gathered that the number of students per room is by far higher than the stipulated number per room. This scenario is therefore putting enormous pressure on the facilities and other amenities.
Students said that the hostels are overcrowded and in dire need of rehabilitation particularly in the sanitation areas.
However, the only favourable condition about both institutions’ hostels is that there is constant electricity and water supply, a development that has helped to mitigate the discomfort facing the students.
At Abia State University, Uturu, students complained that they are packed in the hostels like sardines. Two students share a small bunk made for one person. Students said they pay for bed spaces with the hope that they would occupy the little bed. One of them said, when he returned from class one day, he discovered that another student has officially been sent to pair up in his small bed.
Besides, a room designed to accommodate 8 students may end up accommodating as many as 16 students or more. In some cases, you see as many as 20 students because some of the students would on their own collect some money from student to squat them.
Perhaps, this is the reason why many students prefer to stay outside the campus irrespective of the high cost of rents outside the campus.
In addition, amenities like light and water are not always available. Recently, in ABSU, the management had to shut down the institution and sent the students home because there was no water.