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Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, which is owned by the federal government is one of the first generation universities in Nigeria, and it prides itself as the leader among other universities in the country.
In fact, the alumni of the university often claim that OAU is the most beautiful campus in Africa. Founded in 1961 as the University of Ife by the regional government of Western Nigeria and renamed Obafemi Awolowo University on 12 of May 1987, in honour of the first premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, OAU is ranked as the most productive university in Nigeria by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The campus has an eye-catching landscape built on about 5,000 acres out of a total of 13,000 acres of land belonging to the university. Unfortunately, some of the facilities that once portrayed OAU as a beautiful campus, especially the students’ halls of residence, are decomposing and the rot bedevilling the university is now enormous. The beauty of the OAU students’ halls of residences has given way to decay due to neglect.
There are 8 halls of residence including Fajuyi, Awolowo, Angola and E.T.F for male students, while Moremi, Akintola, Alumni and Mozambique halls of residence are for female students. Signs of wear and tear were very visible on the long stretch of buildings when Daily Trust visited.
The living condition of the students in these halls of residence is pathetic. At the Awolowo Hall, our correspondent observed that the toilets were in bad state in most of the blocks. In one of the toilets, the closet had broken and the bathrooms reeked of fermented urine. The students lamented that the university authority was not carrying out renovation on the hostels. The motto of the university is, “For learning and culture” but owing to the bad condition of their hostels, the students have parodied this motto to “For learning and suffering.”
Mr Oladapo Rasheed, a 200 level student of the Linguistics department is the General Secretary of Awolowo Hall of residence. He told Daily Trust that bedbugs have colonised the hostel “Our mattresses are full of bedbugs owing to non-fumigation. We brought our mattresses from our respective homes, but over the time, the bedbug penetrated the mattresses because the environment is dirty. I once watched the movie titled prison break and the prison that I saw in that movie is better than our hostels in Ife.”
A 400 level student of Psychology, Mr Amos Ajileye said he has spent 4 years on the campus, and that he has never witnessed renovation of the hostels since he was admitted to OAU “I have spent 4 years in this university and I have never seen any renovation on our hostels, except the cleaners that usually come to sweep the floor and they don’t come during weekends. This is too bad and we want the authority to renovate the hostels,” he said.
Another 300 level student of Religious Studies, Mr Ifedapo Akinola also lamented the rot in the infrastructural facilities.
According to him, “There is serious infrastructural decay in our hostels. The condition of our toilets and the tank where we are fetching water is too bad. A section of the hostel collapsed recently, and that is the place where we wash and bath. No one was there when it collapsed. It would have killed some of us if any of us had been present . Should the management wait until we are killed before they would repair our hostel? It is better they do the repairs now.”
Mr Nwanegwo Uzor Amaka, a 400 level Civil Engineering student, also said their hostels could be mistaken for prison yards. Nwanegwo said “Prisoners are better than the condition here. I stay in block 5.We have no toilet and more than 10 students stay in a room meant for two students. We have 10 rooms on the block making 100 students in that block. Yet, there is no toilet for us. We bath outside because the condition of our bathroom is very bad.”
At the female hostel, the situation was similar to that of the male students hostels, in terms of infrastructural decay, but the environment was not too dirty. The female students were taking care of the surroundings of their hostels, unlike their male counterparts who relied solely on the cleaners to help them sweep the surrounding.
At Mozambique Hall, a 200 level student of Public Administration, Miss Adetayo Adetorera Anna is the hall chairperson ,and she was not happy about the living conditions in the hostels. She said, “The condition of our hostels is not pleasant. Our hostels are overcrowded. Take for instance, 24 students share one toilet. We fight to get water. We are battling with bedbugs. In fact, it was our hall warden that helped us to fumigate one of the rooms recently, when the issue of bedbugs became unbearable, and we had to go and report to the hall management.”
At Moremi Hall of residence, Miss Babanumi Oluwadamilola, a 300 level Law student also expressed worry over the living condition in their hostels. She was particular about the issue of toilets and urged the authority of the university to act on time and fix the infrastructures at the hostels. “Our toilets are in very bad shape and as a matter of fact, the hostels need repair. We are suffering seriously. We are not enjoying electricity and other facilities and it should not be so. Actually, the cleaners are trying, but there is a little they can clean on the rotten facilities,” Oluwadamilola said.
A 500 level Chemical Engineering student, Mr. Omotayo Akande is the President of OAU Student Union and he is not oblivious of the horrible living condition in the hostels. Akande is not relenting in the struggle for the welfare of the students. Speaking with Daily Trust, the Student Union President said that there is need to renovate the hostels and guard against overcrowding.
His words, “You can see the level of decay in our overpopulated hostels on the campus, that is supposedly the most beautiful campus in Africa. Under normal circumstances , a room is supposed to be occupied by the number of wardrobes you find there, and there are 2 wardrobes in most of the rooms. However, the rooms are allocated to 6 students officially, while squatters would also join the legal occupants.
Students are complaining of bedbugs. There are no good toilets and we are subjected to a condition that is not favourable to learning. In fact, we are afraid of an outbreak of diseases on this campus.”
“We have met the university authority and pleaded with them to take our welfare serious, but they haven’t done anything. I have spent five years on this campus and they have never renovated any of the hostels since I came to OAU. Imagine, OAU hostels cannot boast of stable power supply and potable water, yet, they said ours is the most beautiful campus in Africa. As student Union leaders, the students are harassing us, blaming us for not confronting the management over this issue, but we are helpless since the university authority turned deaf ears to our cries,” Akande lamented.
Reacting to the development, the Public Relation Officer of the university, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju faulted the students’ claims as he blamed them for abusing the facilities in their hostels. He said the students overcrowded the hostels and overstretched the facilities.
“Everything that the students told you is not true. They caused the problem for themselves by overcrowding the hostels more than the capacity of the facilities in those buildings. In a situation where the university authority allocates a room for only four students, we will eventually realise that 12 students are living in that room and that puts unnecessary pressure on the facilities. They usually accommodate squatters in the rooms ,and it would be difficult for the university authority to chase out the squatters when the occupants of the rooms are not complaining. The students should stop blaming the university authority for the problem they caused themselves. On the issue of renovation, I can assure you that the university authority usually renovates the hostels during long vacations, and the students will meet the hostels neat.But they would dirty it within a few weeks of resumption. You know the students, if we allocate dirty hostels to them, they would protest. So, the hostels are usually neat at the beginning of the session but our students are in the habit of misusing the facilities in the hostels,” Olanrewaju said.