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Accomodation challenges plague Nigerian varsities

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Accommodation challenges plague Nigerian varsities

 

By Timeyin Mammah

 

Securing accommodation in Nigeria’s public universities has become a virtual survival of the fittest contest. Every year, the contest is renewed and only the fittest now get to secure hostel accommodation in the campuses of the nation’s public universities.

 

Part of the discomfiture stems from the fact that this situation is not a new one in itself and has indeed been going on for very many years. And it then raises the question as to why the university authorities are yet to effectively tackle this recurring problem of their not providing accommodation for as many of its students that want to live on-campus.

 

Indeed this situation has led to all kinds of explanations that vary from the fairly logical to even the bizarre.

 

“Highly placed university administrators are the ones who own those expensive hostels in town that have become the alternative that we now patronize. They want to continue to deny us spaces in hostels within the campus so that they can then make lots of money from our desperation. They are not going to build new hostels in campus even though our school has large hectares of unused lands.” A 400 Level student of the Department of English from one of the federal universities in the South West said.

 

Indeed, underscoring the lack of development in this sector, several of the hostels on the campuses of many federal universities as confirmed by our investigation are about as old as the year the University was established. Some are as old as the 60s and 70s and they are not only still in use, maintenance is less than satisfactory and infrastructure upgrade exercises have been few and far between.

 

“The hostels are in very bad shape. And then you also have the problem of squatting and water shortages. Frankly, I simply prefer to stay off campus,” remarked Ayobami, a 300 Level Student of the Department of History from the same South Western university under reference.

 

From our investigation in one of the halls of the university, we discovered that though the university allocates only four occupants to a room, however the population density in some rooms was as much as 10 apiece!

 

“Squatters are a big problem, even if you don’t want to squat anybody, your roommates will squat for you.” Yomi Adeniyi, a 300 Level student of English Education from the University of Lagos said.

 

From our findings, the University’s management has tried to combat the problem of squatting but determined students still find a way around the various rules and security measures that are put in place.

 

Due to the insufficient number of accommodation spaces on Nigerian campuses, the sheer process of properly securing these spaces on campuses and shutting off invaders has become quite strenuous and largely most difficult.

 

Indeed, the introduction of more and more technology into the process of disbursing the few spaces on offer to the throng of would-be-occupants has only marginally affected the overall outcomes. As at today, most Nigerian Universities use a system of online balloting which should have made the process easier but this is not really the case.

 

“You can be on the online balloting portal for as much as one hour before balloting starts and yet still not get a bed-space. You have to keep trying all day long and pray you are lucky.” James, a 200 Level student from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Lagos said.

 

Hope in the horizon

While many institutions seem to have surrendered to the weight of the challenge and continued working with just what they have, the public has lately been excited over fresh news that the Lagos State University, Ojo, working in concert with the Lagos State Government, is now engaged in the process of incorporating private property developers into a scheme to assist in building more hostels and thus expanding the accommodation carrying capacity on and around the campus. And you can bet that not a few students are praying that the scheme should not only succeed but that even their institutions would equally be minded to borrow a leaf from LASU and commence the process of introducing similar schemes in their own campuses too.

 

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