UNN: To Reverse the Dignity of Man

Issues surrounding the abject neglect and dilapidation of students’ residential halls at the nation’s premier indigenous university have continued to resonate, writes EUCLID AGUNWA

Although the university has put up a public relations stunt in an attempt to puncture claims regarding the state of the residential halls, the truth remains. Facts are sacred but opinions are free.

Any visitor to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, will see an educational institution that is still facing the ugly effects of the Nigerian civil war, as there are several abandoned projects, including the velodrome and stadium complex near the Faculty of Agriculture. Unlike comparable federal universities in other geopolitical zones, UNN has been unfortunate not to have been gifted, over the years, with the right calibre of vice-chancellor with the pedigree to pull the right cord and get the federal government to accord it deserved treatment as the premier indigenous university or even as one of the first set of universities in the country. It could be that the VCs had little or no regard for infrastructural development or beautification of the vast land allocated to it in the two campuses (Nsukka and Enugu), which is why, unlike universities in the northern or south-western parts of the country, UNN remains at best a glorified secondary school in terms of infrastructure. 

The poor public relations stunt pushed out by the dean of student affairs of the UNN contradicts facts on ground, thus proving how terrible the situation really is. Just a visit to the university would reveal the truth. And the fact that education minister Adamu Adamu has not visited the university or made any public statement on the issue or set up a panel to probe the expose affirms that it could be a deliberate government policy; if not, why?

The UNN management would not want to tell the world that it signed a 30-year PPP agreement with a key sponsor of some top management staff of the university. Sources say students are expected to pay twice the official hostel accommodation fee in 2022, when the 10,000-bed PPP hostel is expected to be completed. And no one would want to believe that the supervising ministry is not aware of this or that the Governing Council was sidetracked in the agreement.

The university management would equally not want to tell the world, since it is masquerading a “fantastic” PR stunt, that it is collecting N5,000 from each student for Mackintosh, before students who secured accommodation in those decrepit hostels are given mattresses and pillows and checked in by hostel porters. Who accounts for this N5,000 per student?

Students tell their parents that the porters claim the Mackintosh is to ward off giant bed bugs that have built an empire, feasting on the hopeless students, rather than snuff out life permanently from such bugs as well as snakes, other reptiles and insects that ravage the university’s Nsukka campus through functional fumigation carried out professionally, especially during the vacation periods. But, to them, N5,000 Mackintosh is it. Who accounts for this illegal income? Who pockets the money since it is paid in cash? 

It is a shame that a lot of sordid things are happening at UNN; the situation is not helped by apparent lack of interest by the present and past university administrations. Ripping off parents and students is now a game, a shameful “academic game” — call it a fraud.

The Student Union Government (SUG) has been exposed as either compromised or comprised of puppets or lackeys of the administration. Otherwise, why did they keep mum? Is that the pedigree of SUGs? 

It should be pointed out that students offered admission to the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Enugu campus, among some other courses at the university, do not know their fate on graduation, because this academic programme is yet to be accredited by the NUC, four years since the first set of students was offered admission there. And in order to cover up the fraud, the university has not issued any of the students appropriate admission letter for the course by JAMB. Only the university admission letter reads the correct department. And the admissions of the affected students are yet to be regularised by JAMB, since they all were given temporary admission into other courses like Anatomy, Pathology, and Medical Rehabilitation. A justification for running the course at a time the world is ravaged by Covid-19 cannot be challenged, however. But why fail accreditation? 

This is in spite of the fact that the first set of students in the department is expected to graduate at the end of this academic session. Next, the university may blame witches and wizards for its inability to do the needful. That cannot be. It is pure sabotage. It is targeted at frustrating the students and their parents. But what on earth did those students and their parents do to warrant all these?

The UNN management would not want people to know that it closed down the zoological garden at the Department of Zoology, several years ago, for reasons only and best known to it, leaving mouths agape as to how students in the department do their practicals. Do they graduate half-baked?

It’s needless pointing at the structural designs in some faculty buildings, at the Nsukka campus in particular, that have no proper ventilation and lighting at the staircases. 

It beggars question as to why the Federal Ministry of Education prefers to pretend it is not aware of the problems faced by the university, either imposed or self-inflicted by poor management.

The education minister, Adamu Adamu, and the minister of state, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, are aware of the rot at the UNN; only the political will to right these wrongs is lacking — and seriously so.

Maybe it’s all a deliberate government policy to smack down the quality of its graduates, known globally for their pedigree when UNN was driven along the path set by its founder, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, in 1960, and propelled by first VC Dr George Marion Johnson (1960–1964). 

As the university management hosts what it dubs “a mandatory Student-Parent/Guardian Summit on 28/10/21 @ Ekpo Ref., UNN, by 08:00 am”, there is no doubt the university knows there are too many gaping holes. But is the meeting a fait accompli or actually designed to proffer solutions to the myriads of problems besetting the university? 

Agunwa sent in this piece from Abuja.

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