University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Amid complaints over the state of hostels at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), the Vice Chancellor, Prof Charles Igwe, has assured that efforts are being made to improve the condition of existing hostels and build new ones.

Investigation by The Guardian showed that the university, with students’ population of over 40,000 and yearly intake of about 10,000 could boast of hostels that could barely accommodate one third of the students.

The social media was recently awash with a video clip on the deplorable condition of Nkurumah Hall, one of the oldest hostels in the institution.

Investigations into hostels situation in Nsukka campus showed that there are 17 halls of residence with a total bed space of 7,129. One of the halls, Odili, with 511 bed spaces, is dedicated to postgraduate students, while the remaining 16 halls are for undergraduate students. Male students occupy two halls, Alvan Ikoku and Eni-Njoku, while female students are quartered in the remaining 14 halls.

Igwe said his administration has made efforts to increase students’ accommodation, stressing that two years ago, “the university management entered an agreement with a property firm to construct hostel blocks with over 12,000 bed spaces under Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.”

He said the dilapidated and abandoned Zik’s flat would be reconstructed, following an agreement to concession the place, adding that when completed, it would provide additional 6,000 bed spaces for students’ accommodation.

The VC said he was open to receiving interventions and support from alumni, organisations and individuals for renovation of the hostels and other critical infrastructure in the institution.

The Dean, Student Affairs, Prof Edwin Omeje, said for a university that was founded in 1960, the hostels have seen age. “They are, however, not as bad as they were portrayed in the social media. Most of them have been renovated and are in good condition.

Renovating the hostels is capital intensive; we are taking it one at a time. But I can assure you that the current university management is doing its best to make them better.”

He explained that male and female undergraduates who live in the hostels pay accommodation fees of N12, 000 and N15, 000 respectively, while their postgraduate counterparts pay N30, 000 per session.

Omeje, however, lamented that the school spends more in running the hostels than it generates. According to him, If 100 per cent of the rooms are paid for, the university generates N98, 240 000, but spends about N457, 503, 575 in running them every session, which include electricity, water, internet services, security, sewage maintenance, repairs and cleaning.

Omeje said any attempt to increase the hostel fees could lead to unrest and damage of existing infrastructure.

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