Of Felix Ikem, Nsukka
The Social media was inundated with a video clip recorded by a lady on the state of Nkurumah Hall, one of the oldest hostels at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
The nighttime video made it seem like the students of the first college were living in a squalid and neglected environment. But the findings of reporters who toured the university this weekend suggest otherwise.
The Sunday Sun’s investigation into the situation of youth hostels on the university’s Nsukka campus revealed that there were 17 residences with a total of 7,129 beds.
One of the rooms, Odili, with 511 beds, is dedicated to postgraduate students, while the remaining 16 rooms are for undergraduates. Male students occupy two rooms, Alvan Ikoku and Eni-Njoku, while female students are distributed among the remaining 14 rooms.
“The allocation of bed places is on a first come, first served basis. Special attention is given to first and final year students, ”said Prof. Edwin Omeje, Dean of Student Affairs.
The dean said the university founded in 1960, Youth Hostels, has therefore aged, arguing that the hostels are not as bad as they have been portrayed on social media.
According to the Dean, “Most of the hostels have been renovated and are in good condition. Renovated rooms include: Ajanwachukwu, Akintola, Awolowo, Balewa, Bello, E-block, Eyoita, Isa-Kaita, Mary Slessor and Presidential. The Okeke Hall was rebuilt after a fire in 2016, while the toilets at the Okpara Hostel were modernized during COVID-19 containment in 2020.
“Mbanefo Hostel, the largest of them all, is currently undergoing renovations, while the university administration is considering a viable and fair model for the rapid renovation of Nkrumah, Alvan and Eni-Njoku hostels.
“The renovation of hostels is capital intensive; we take it one at a time. But I can assure you that the current the university leadership is doing their best to make them better.
Speaking further, Omeje said that male and female undergraduates who live in hostels pay accommodation fees of N 12,000 and N 15,000 respectively, postgraduates pay N 30,000 per session, pointing out that the university spends more to run hostels than it does. generates.
“If 100% of the rooms are paid, the university generates around 98,240,000 N, but we spend around 457,503,575 N to manage the hostels per session.
“The expenses include the costs of providing electricity, water, Internet services, security, sewer maintenance, repairs and cleaning.
“Any attempt to increase accommodation costs could cause unrest among students and damage existing infrastructure,” he said.
He added that UNN has more than 40,000 students with an annual intake of around 10,000 students, noting that the hostels available can barely accommodate a third of the students.
Meanwhile, the current administration of the University headed by Professor Charles Igwe, the vice-chancellor, has made concrete efforts to increase student accommodation. Two years ago, the university management entered into an agreement with Viagem Property Ltd for the construction of hostel blocks with more than 12,000 beds as part of a BOT agreement. The project has come a long way. Three of the blocks are expected to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2022.
“We are approaching the student accommodation challenge holistically,” said the VC, stressing that it is determined to improve the condition of existing hostels and build new ones.
“An agreement was also reached for the concession for the reconstruction of Zik’s Flats. The project is expected to provide 6,000 additional places for student accommodation, ”Igwe added.
He also said he was open to receiving interventions and support from alumni, organizations and individuals for the renovation of hostels and other critical university infrastructure.