Our Universities are Dying and This is What ASUU is Fighting For:
THERE are five Universities operating in Edo state. These are the University of Benin owned by the federal government, Edo State owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Igbinedion University, Okada near Benin, Benson Idahosa University Benin and Samuel Adegboyega University Ogwa which are privately owned universities.
In Uniben, decay is setting in Prof. Tony Afejuku, former Head of Department- English and Literature, radical lecturer, poet, author and former chairman- ASUU UNIBEN Chapter who spoke on the state of infrastructure in the University had this to say, “Our universities are dying and this is what ASUU is fighting for. First, there are no facilities to teach the many students that we are teaching; the classrooms are no classrooms, lecture theatres are no theatres, many of them are too small to accommodate students and needed to be expanded, many of the chairs in the classrooms are broken and no electricity, fans do not work”
“In many instances, there are no air conditioners provided for lecturer’s offices as obtained in other parts of the world and as a Professor, I should not teach more than 15 students at a time. I have just returned from abroad and I spoke with some of my colleagues there and they said they never teach more than 35 students in a year to enable them have time for research and teachings.
Our colleagues in Nigeria do not go for international conferences yearly unlike our colleagues abroad. So, the lecturers are not being encouraged by the system. If you go to students’ hostels, they have become jungles as a result of the dilapidation there, no good laboratories and candles are being used to conduct experiments.
Lack of good accommodation, faculty buildings at AAU, Ekpoma
CHAIRMAN of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of AAU, Professor Fred Esumeh who spoke with SATURDAY VANGUARD on the state of infrastructure in the University said, “We deserve a good Auditorium in the University, we need good hostels for the accommodation of our students. We need Faculty buildings because for the 30 years that the University has been in existence, we have only three Faculty buildings, that is, Law, Architecture and Social Sciences”.
“We need a Teaching Hospital instead of the MoU with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital owned by the federal government; a Sports Complex, and Laboratories well equipped. There is a shortage of manpower in the university but we will gradually continue to recruit to meet the National Universities Commission (NUC) minimum standard”
However, SATURDAY VANGUARD gathered that a lot is being done in the provision of infrastructure at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma For instance, the TETFUND projects which Prof Cordelia Agbebaku has attracted are: 1. the construction of 3-in-1 300 Capacity Lecture Theatre at Permanent Site, 2. Construction of Faculty of Social Sciences Building Complex at the Permanent Site, 3. Procurement and Supply of 969 Volumes of Books in 26 Subject areas to the University Central Library, 4.Procurement of Brand new Toyota(STD). Bus Ambulance Equipped Medical Facilities at University Health Centre, 5. Procurement of 35 Electronic Library Equipment at Faculty of Clinical Science Library, 6. Procurement of 100KVA/1104C44TA922 at University Central Library, 7. Procurement of Teaching and Research Equipment for the Departments in the College of Medicine, Department of Architecture and Computer Science. Other TETFUND Projects are: 1.Furnishing of the 1000 Capacity Lecture Theatre with Modern theatre seats including reha
bilitation of the ceiling and painting at Main Campus, 2. Procurement and installation of Language Laboratory Facilities in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, 8. Procurement and installation of Furniture and Equipment for the Department of Political Science, 9. Procurement and installation of Furniture, Fittings and Equipment for the Faculty of Law, 10. Procurement of various laboratories works Facilities Equipment for water supply and standby Generators, 11. Construction and Furnishing of Faculty of Arts Office Block and Lecture Halls.
What late Prof Festus Iyayi said on the issues
Speaking on the state of infrastructure in Nigerian Universities in his last interview with SUNDAY VANGUARD , Late Professor Festus Iyayi said, “ Government set up a committee called the NEEDS ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE and it went round the Nigerian Universities and what it found was shocking. First, if found that the students – teachers ratio was 1-400 on the average instead of being 1-40.
It found out that the classrooms were grossly inadequate and could accommodate only about 30 percent of the number of students that needed to enter those classrooms; they went round and found students standing in their lecture theatres with other students writing on their backs, they found lectures going on under trees in some of the universities, they went to laboratories where they found people using kerosene stoves instead of busen burners to conduct experiments, they found specimens being kept in pure water bottles instead of the appropriate places where such specimens should be kept. They found Chemistry labs without water; they found people doing examinations called theory of practicals and not the practicals and you will imagine what the practical ought to be.”
“And when the report was eventually presented to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Federal Executive Council, we understand that Jonathan said that he was embarrassed and did not know that things were all that bad. It was on that basis that they said that this money should be spent. As we speak, the money has not been provided, no intervention has taking place and the academics are tired.
We negotiated for three years, 2006-2009, we went on strike in December, 2011 and government apprehended that strike; we signed an MoU in January 2012 and between then and now nothing happened. That is why we are on strike. We are saying, look, rehabilitate the universities. As a reporter you can go around our classrooms and you will see what our classrooms are like. In this era, it is the quality of knowledge that you acquire that will determine the position you occupy in any
part of the world. We did this and government did not do anything”
“ A Professor came from Bayelsa state recently to the University of Benin, looking for Journals, we went to the Library because we have an e-Library and he could not do anything there because there was no light and for two days, there was no light in the library. If you go round here now, lecturers now have generators for their offices so as to be able to work in their offices, every Department now have two or three generators so as to be able to do their work.
Is that what a university should be like? If you go to the students’ hostels, they in sorry state, they live 12 in a room; they are like piggries, like poultries, they now have what they called shut puts, they excrete in polythene bags and throw them through the widows into the fields because there are no toilets. If you come into this building (Faculty building), there are no toilets and if you walked round you will find faeces sometimes in the classrooms because students have no place to use. And it is like that all over Nigerian universities.
Academic staff have said enough is enough, we cannot continue to work under these conditions especially when government gave commitment in 2012 that this matter would be addressed and up till now nothing had happened”
“And when students leave here, they apply for progammes outside of Nigeria say to the United Kingdom, United States and other countries for their Master Degrees, Phd or other postgraduate programmes and they are told that they cannot be admitted because their degrees are suspect. Shell Company here in Nigeria spent millions of Dollars in re-training graduates, people who have made First Class after they have left the university and when they test them, they found out that they have problems. How can you take an engineer who has not conduct an experiment, all he did was the theory of practical? He does not know how the equipment works. We have said that we cannot continue. If you want a properly educated student population, you have to provide the facilities. That is why ASUU is on strike.