By Jeremiah Oke
The dilapidated state of facilities in halls of residence at the University of Ibadan is becoming a threat to the academic performances of the students. Besides being overcrowded, many of the hostels lack basic amenities. Some students read under the street lights powered by solar energy for lack of constant power supply while many sleep on the bare floor for fear of bed bug.
The toilet facilities across many hostels in the institution visited by our correspondent are an eyesore while the porous security architecture of the campus affects free movement of the students at night. Despite the challenges facing the students in the hostels, the management recently increased the fees from N14,000 to N30,000 per student.
Some students expressed fear that the terrible state of the toilet facilities is capable of causing an epidemic on campus. Our correspondent reports that the cafeterias in all the halls are empty without chairs and tables for the students’ comfort. It was however observed that almost all the structures are well painted, but students described them as a ‘fake aesthetics’, saying they are just “old wine in new bottles”.
A visit to the Obafemi Awolowo Hostel, said to be the largest hostel, and built in 1986, reveals a dirty environment with poor ventilation and bushy surroundings. Recently, armed robbers laid siege at the hostel for hours and made away with female students’ laptops, phones, cash and other belongings, just as they injured two.
A security official attached to the hostel was reportedly tied while the robbery lasted. Investigation however revealed that following an outcry over the incident and the deplorable situation of the hall, renovation works have commenced.
A student, who gave her name as Kemi Oguntade was seen complaining to a supervisor of the need to carry out electrical and other minor repair works in her room. The population of students, according to our findings, was put at over 2000 on inception in 1986 but today, barely 1500 students are residing there.
The hall is isolated at one end of the campus, thus making it susceptible to invasion by armed robbers. Undergraduates residing in the hostel pay N30, 000 while postgraduate students are charged N50, 000 per session.
One of the students told Daily Trust that “the security lapse you cited was an unfortunate development and the management had fortified the hall with more security personnel and other logistics that I won’t disclose, to forestall a future recurrence.
“You will also notice that renovation works have commenced there and we intend to give our students residing there the best of facilities to make their stay there ‘a home away from home’,” he added.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which accommodates female students, the students complained of poor power supply which according to them affects availability of water.
A student, who craved anonymity, said; “We have the challenge of power supply. Most times, we find it difficult to pump water, resulting in our drawing water from the well. Before now, the toilets were in a terrible state but they have partially repaired it,” she said.
On how many students are accommodated in a room, she said the big rooms have eight students while the small rooms accommodate three students. On the amount paid by each student in the current session, she said “before now, we used to pay N14,000 per student but it has been increased to N30,000 each, but sincerely, they have repaired the facility partly. Unlike before when the toilets were very bad, they are improving on the services since they increased the fees.
“Though we normally have water running but for some time now, we fetch water from the well.” At Mellanby Hall, the situation is worse as many of the students complain of security lapses, invasion of bed bugs, indiscriminate and incessant punishment for crimes they didn’t commit.
A student who simply identified himself as David said the unstable light, the terrible condition of the toilets, and the bed bug are major problems in the hostel. He said; “the light is not stable at all and as a result, we have shortage of water. I have seen a student reading under a streetlight powered by inverter. At times, some of the executives contribute money to buy fuel for hall’s generating set so that students can read, charge their phones and laptop. “The issue of toilet is partially solved because they have done at least 40 percent of the toilets in the halls but many are still very bad. The source of the bed bugs is the reading room, though I cannot blame the management for that because they fumigate the hall every session but the problem has continued.” At Tedder Hall, for both male and female students, the story was the same as the students said there was no renovation of facilities before painting the structure.
A 400 Level student of Anthropology who refused to mention his name said he didn’t believe in writing stories on the terrible facilities in the institution because several articles written on the institution didn’t yield any result. The young man, who said he is a friend to students in all the floors, lamented that the hall is the worst in the premier university.
“They just painted the building without doing anything renovation. The toilets and bathrooms are bad. The lights are not good at all. There are no bunks. When they don’t know who committed an offence, they impose fines on the entire students, and at the end of the day make more money than the cost of damages. There’s no security on campus because halls were raided after the school management stopped okada operation on campus. We know that the newly introduced Keke Napep is owned by the powerful men in the school.
“The only question yet to be answered is why there is always erratic power supply, especially during examination,” he said. The popular Sultan Bello Hall, which looks archaic, lacks decent toilet facility and water supply. One of the students said “We go to the faculty at times to defecate because the toilets in our halls are nothing but danger. Being a Muslim, I sometimes go to the mosque to answer the call of nature.
“Students always find their ways around these problems but it is not the best. The University of Ibadan, which was the best in those days, parades nothing but fake aesthetics today,” he said.
Reacting to the terrible condition of the halls, the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Keye Abiona, said the federal government has not been supportive in maintaining the halls. He said he discovered that many of the students usually bring bedbugs to their hostels while returning to school after holidays because it is tradition to fumigate the halls before the students resume.
He said “The issue of light is general in Nigeria and not peculiar to the University of Ibadan. We pay N40m to the IBEDC every month. On the issue of water, if you observe, we use boreholes in all the halls and we have generators to pump water for them.
“I don’t believe you visited all the halls because there is improvement in recent time. Also, you have to consider the population of the students in the hostels.
“You can see that work is ongoing and we cannot conclude that the halls are terrible until they complete the renovation work. “The problem with our halls is lack of fund. Since the 1980s, the federal government has not been giving us fund to manage hostels, you can quote me anywhere. You will also observe that we have painted the halls, it is a gradual process.”