In Alex Ekwueme University, one of the 12 universities established in 2011 by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, students face a lot of challenges as a result of inadequate facilities. The institution is located at
Udufu Alike in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Njoku Francis, a student of Criminology and Security Study in the university, told our correspondent that within the first week of he spent in the school, he lost some of his valuable items, including phones and cloths. He lost those items when he left his room at night to study within the campus.
Francis is not the only student who has suffered the same fate, others do. In fact, it is said that stealing has become a common scenario in the school.
“When I observed that those items were no longer there, I raised the alarm, but to no avail,’’ Francis said.
Another student who simply identified himself as Toochukwu also shared his experience with Daily Trust on Sunday and blamed the management of the university for not providing enough accommodation for students. He said the only male hostel in the university could not accommodate more than 600 students, leaving thousands of others without accommodation.
“Alex Ekwueme University is good in terms of teaching, but there are some hindrances, including accommodation challenges. That is why many students are living outside the campus. The male hostel, which is expected to take not more than five students per room, accommodates over 8 illegal squatters,’’ he said.
Also recounting their ordeal, a female student of Microbiology, Aniagor Ukamaka, expressed dismay over the state of the university library. She said it could not accommodate more than 90 students.
“This university needs a big library that befits a federal institution, not a mini library that is not equal to that of my secondary school. During examination periods when there’s normally a gale of rush, you would hardly secure a space to sit and study your books. And the Alex Ekwueme University is an institution where you do not joke with your studies. It is a place where you would be forced to study hard so as to succeed like others; otherwise you will be shown the way out. So we need a bigger library that would be equipped with modern books, desks etc,’’ she said.
Another student, Christopher Okereke, who lives outside the university campus, told Daily Trust on Sunday that landlords in the neighbourhood of the university had taken advantage of the inadequate accommodation in the school to exploit students.
“l paid N80,000 for one year- for a small self-contain room that is not more than 10 by 10 in size, while my colleagues in the school hostel pay N30,000 for a bed-space. We are begging the government to give us more hostels so that some of us will get accommodation in the campus instead of wasting our money outside.
“I am not here for leisure. The main reason l left my father’s house in Lagos is to study here. Besides, Nigeria’s economy is very harsh now; there is no money. l even pity my parents who have three of us in higher institutions to train,’’ Okereke said.
When contacted, the vice chancellor of the university, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba, noted that accommodation challenge was prevalent in all sectors.
Pleading with students and members of staff of the university to be patient, Prof Nwajiuba, however, blamed the escalating challenges to contractors who are yet to complete three significant projects awarded to them since 2011. He called for the intervention of the Federal Government to bring those contractors back to sites.
“Unfortunately, we have administrative blocks, library and male hostel buildings that are yet to be completed by contractors since 2011
“Every sector in this university is in dire need of accommodation, not only the students,’’ he said.
“The present university library, which took off with 250 students, cannot accommodate half of the 5,337 students presently studying in the school,” he said.
“I am using this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to bring those contractors back to sites because we need those projects to be completed. They are very strategic to the advancement of effective learning and administrative duties in the university,” he explained.
When our correspondent visited the three projects that are yet to be completed, it was observed that the work done at the administrative building, which was awarded in 2013, stood at 20 per cent, library, 67 per cent, while the male hostel was estimated to have reached 70 per cent.
The three contracts are said to be funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
Further findings, however, revealed that the female hostel, which was completed and handed over to the school since 2014, was awarded at the same time with that of the male at the cost of N500 million, while the library was awarded at a total sum of N220 million. The contractors were said to have abandoned their sites since 2014.
Daily Trust on Sunday also gathered that the university, which is barely seven years old, with 25 departments and 50 academic programmes, has 5,337 students, with an estimated 3,500 of them living outside the campus.