The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is set to embark on an ambitious review of its students’ accommodation policy to decongest and renovate the halls of residence on the campus, a top official has exclusively told PREMIUM TIMES.
The university, established in 1962 as the University of Ife, has nine halls of residence, mostly dilapidated due to years of negligence and unsustainable pressure, having had to accommodate far more students than their original capacity.
For instance, shared six-bed rooms at most of the blocks of the Awolowo Hall have an average of 10 students each, exerting pressure on the facilities.
In recent years, OAU has become an object of ridicule after pictures of its filthy and dilapidated residential facilities, including lavatories and rooms were released on social media by aggrieved students.
But if anything comes of the new vows of the management regarding the halls of residence, the facilities may be improved soon.
The Dean of the Students’ Affairs, Isiaka Aransi, told PREMIUM TIMES the school had concluded plans to raise the standards of the facilities.
“We are going by the initial plan of those buildings,” he said. “Rooms that are meant for 4 people, will be occupied by 4. Those meant for 1 or 2 or 8 students will be occupied by the normal number of students.”
He added that that the school is planning to renovate the halls of residence after the holiday, starting Saturday, February 17.
Mr. Aransi, a professor, promised that works would be completed before the resumption of the 2017/2018 academic session.
Aware of the eyesores and standing embarrassment that the facilities have become, he said, “We want a place where students can show to their parents. We’ll do the renovation but that will be after we’ve cleared the rooms.”
To give effect to the promise, the school has formally asked the students to vacate the halls of residence immediately the vacation starts.
The oldest hostels are Awolowo Hall and the Moremi Hall, for males and females respectively, built 45 years ago. They were followed by Angola (Males’) Hall and Mozambique (females’) Hall, both constructed in 1975. These four hostels account for about 8,000 of the students residing on campus.
Then, Adekunle Fajuyi (male), Ladoke Akintola (female), Alumni (female) ETF (male) Halls and Murtala Muhammed (postgraduate) Halls were built afterwards
Angola and Mozambique Halls, traditionally for first year students, are typically overcrowded. Officially, there should be 12 occupants in each of the rooms, but cases of a ‘legal occupant’ accommodating – ‘helping’ – an ‘illegal occupant’, usually a year-two student who is not allocated room by the school and is not able to rent a room off campus, are rampant.
It is normal at OAU for students who are officially allocated rooms to accommodate their friends, who are not allocated and can’t afford a rent off-campus or at the privately-run hostels on campus.
Abiodun Ajayi, a part-four student expressed the need for the renovation of the hostels.
“Professional builders confirmed that any building, no matter the expertise of builder, should be renovated after 20 years. That is ideal,” he commented on the decaying facilities.
Mokama Joseph, a part-one resident of Awolowo Hall, spoke about the cracks in the buildings, the faulty electric sockets, damaged doors and the wriggling bed bunks.
“The lives of students are being endangered if nothing urgent is done to attend to the state of the hostels.”
Also, a resident of Mozambique Hall, Adeola Adewumi, told our correspondent that the bathroom in her block does not have a roof, which lets in the rain when students bathe.
“We are more than 12 in the room, and the broken asbestos increases the intensity emanating from the sun,” she added.
Our correspondent who went around the facilities reported that many of the rooms have bad doors and locks, torn window nets and broken louvres, just like the water tanks outside the blocks are dirty.