One hot day in 2017, Oyindamola Adeniyi felt a flutter in her lower abdomen. She knew she needed to use the toilet quickly. But the thought of which toilet to use made her break out into a cold sweat: there was no toilet available for students.
Now in her final year at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), the trauma of that day in her first year has remained etched in Ms Adeniyi’s memory.
“Back then, I was living in another town called Ilupeju Ekiti, which is like 20 minutes away from Oye. I was in a hurry so I ate hot food,” recalled Ms Adeniyi, who is now in her early 20s.
“In 100 level, we used to fight for seats in class and I did not want to stand throughout the class. We were supposed to have a test immediately after. Before the class ended, my stomach started acting up and I wanted to relieve myself. I was so disturbed.”
The nearest toilets to Ms Adeniyi are the ones in the Faculty of Arts. But they were locked. They were locked on her first day in the university, in 2016. Now, in her final year, five years later, they are still locked.
Ms Adeniyi’s next option was the toilet at the school’s clinic, a three-minute walk from the class. When she got there, the staff at the clinic told her she could not use their toilet. Her pleas that she was suffering a runny stomach fell on deaf ears.
Having run out of options, she grabbed her bag, stopped a motorcycle, and decided to head home.
The motorcycle’s sudden movement sent the contents of her stomach splattering on her body.
“I was so embarrassed, the bike man was shouting and students gathered. I began crying and begging,” she said.
“People were pleading for me though. We were taken to a house near Oye market to wash the bike and clean myself. That day, I wore a stranger’s cloth home and I felt like the ground should swallow me.”
Ms Adeniyi is among the thousands of students at FUOYE who do not have access to basic, clean toilet facilities in the course of their studies.
Since 2011 when it was established, FUOYE has not provided toilet facilities for students across its faculties.
In the Faculty of Arts, which is one of the largest in the school with four departments, all the toilets are permanently under lock and key, for the exclusive use of the lecturers.
Once in a while, the students stumble on an unlocked toilet and, expectedly, the crowd of users renders it unfit for use. As a last resort, students of the university turn to open defecation.
David Amodu, a final year student and the president of the English and Literary Studies Department, said the problem not only affects the students but lecturers too.
Mr Amodu, who has been familiar with the issue since he gained admission into the school in 2016, said female students are more disadvantaged, owing to their need for toilets and adequate water supply, especially during their periods.
“It doesn’t speak well of a 21st-century institution like our prestigious FUOYE, that one of the few straws that will be breaking our camel’s back is lack of toilets,” he said.
“I have many female friends. How about changing their pads, cleaning up during emergency flow? It means students would have to jump on bike and return home, missing tests and lectures, and not all lecturers would understand that.”
Asked where he answers his own nature’s call, the president replied, “It is the same thing our progenitors did some 400 years ago. It is into the bush, and we ease ourselves.”
Budgetary Allocations to FUOYE
In the last ten years, FUOYE has received N25.9 billion from the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Education, according to data provided by Dataphyte, a media research and data analytics organisation.
The breakdown is thus:
The President of Faculty Arts, Ayobami Jimoh, said two toilets were actually made available for the 3,000 students in the faculty.
“Two toilets have been allocated to FASA, that I am sure of. It was announced at the Congress on May 19th, 2021 and the Welfare Director shared a broadcast recently too,” he said.
“We have the keys with us. Students are to get them from the Secretariat anytime they need it but very few have come for it.”
But Okeke Salvation, a 200 level student of Theatre and Media Arts, said he was not aware of the allocation of the toilets. He noted that a water tank for use in the toilets was some distance away and buckets were not provided.
“So, the toilets are now like storerooms where drums are kept and students mostly use the nearby bushes,” he said.
When contacted, the Deputy Dean of Faculty of Arts, Harry Olufunwa, maintained that toilets had been assigned to students and lecturers in the faculty.
“When the current dean, Prof. Opoola came in, one of the first things he did was to identify the problems we had with toilet facilities,” he said.
“Perhaps, the biggest problem was the lack of water. So, what he did was that he set up a tank and a pumping system. This tank and pumping system was set up by him personally with his own money.
“Accreditation took place in November 2019. What they did in preparation for that exercise was to refurbish all toilets. They then made four available to students. Two in the first, two in the second building.”
Students, however, said there is no water in the faculty and they have to rely on a shallow well.
Ms Adeniyi is now in her final year in the university, but memories of that incident five years ago are still etched in her memory. These days, the walk-time from her class to the school’s clinic has increased to 20 minutes, after the clinic was relocated to its permanent site.
“I would like to plead with the management of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti to please, so that things like this could be curbed,” she said.
“The faculty and the departmental welfare should liaise with the student union body to be able to do this because we need it.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...