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.


  1. The challenge of students’ accommodation and hostel dilapidation is not peculiar to the UNN. It is common, especially among old generation universities. The challenge is caused by population surge in the universities without corresponding government intervention to increase the accommodation capacity. The author of this article is probably not aware that government does not finance the construction or renovation of hostels anymore. Universities help themselves by seeking private developers under the PPP arrangement. The University of Ibadan in 2018 started 77 PALMS hostel under a PPP concession for 25 years. In December 2019, LASU entered into agreement with six property developers to build a total of 8,272 bed spaces under PPP concession that would run for 35 years. A 40-room-capacity hostel was constructed by Niger State Development Company for IBBU Lapai, under a PPP arrangement for 25years.

    It is therefore a fair deal for the UNN to have secured a PPP deal to construct over 12,000 bed spaces for 30 years concession. Instead of relying on the grapevine, the author of this article should spare some time and make his findings on the owner of Viagem Property, the company developing the UNN hostels. I am sure his findings will contradict his position. His claim that the University Council was not consulted in the concession agreement exposes his ignorance about the university system and how decisions are taken.

    What is wrong if by 2022 students add a little money to get a more decent accommodation in the new hostel? Currently, UNN charges about 15k and 12k as hostel fee for female and male students respectively. This is the least among public universities. UI charges 4Ok for Alexander Brown Hall and 30k for other halls. UniPort charges N22,500, etc.
    To the credit of the administration of Prof Charles Igwe, UNN hostels are receiving attention one after the other. The toilet ends and bathrooms of Okpara hostel can compete with what you find in some hotels. Okeke hall is in top form. Bathroom showers were recently restored in Nkrumah hall. Arrangements are almost concluded to start the renovation of Zik’s flat. Plans for Eni Njoku and other halls are in the pipeline. Instead of derisive criticism on the administration, it is better to advocate increased government funding and interventions from good-spirited Nigerians. Running a public university in Nigeria is not bread and butter.

    The allegation that the UNN forces students to buy Mackintosh for N5,000 is false. The school encourages students to provide themselves with Mackintosh to guard against bedbugs which some students could import from their homes. Some persons took advantage of the order and started selling Mackintosh around the hostels. The university management got wind of it and sent them packing. Some of their wares were confiscated.

    The author of this article would want SUG to start agitating and destroying school property as a proof of their effectiveness. Student unionism has matured past that level. In UNN, students are part of the decision making. They are aware of the efforts on ground to address their concerns. They are carried along in every step. They are not docile, they are just wiser.
    If the author of this article is an alumnus of UNN, I suggest he identify with the alumni mobilization effort led by Mr Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State. The target is to raise N1billion annually to improve infrastructure in the university over a period of five years. It will interest you to know that the VC, as an alumnus, has started mobilizing his 1984 set for the contribution. That is how passionate he is about improving the condition of things in UNN.


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