The new Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who was appointed last October decided on a medium to address the students by going to each faculty in the University. The visits were scheduled between the 3rd to 13th of April, 2018. On Wednesday, 4th of April, Prof. Ogundipe visited the College of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmacy in the Idiaraba campus of the University. The meeting took place in the College’s New Great Hall, Idi-araba, which commenced at 2pm with the students seated in the hall before the arrival of the Vice Chancellor.
At about 2:20pm, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ogundipe arrived, everyone got on their feet to acknowledge his presence. He then started off with introductions, which included important officials such as the Provost, Prof. Lesi and Deputy Provost of the college, Prof. Akinbo. Prof. Ogundipe went on to commend the students on their conducts during the NASU strike.
The Vice Chancellor’s major topic of discussion for the day was on “entrepreneurship”. According to him, students should also focus on building other skills regardless of their academics. He encouraged students to be entrepreneurs, reminding them that they have control over their destiny. He went further by saying, “to achieve your destiny, you must develop your skills”. With this, he talked about a new platform which the University has propounded to aid students in financing their start-up businesses. In line with the office of Students affairs division and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development services.
The aim of the platform was to enable students bring their idea to life and also give them trainings to improve their skills. Sadly, only students in their first and second years would benefit from this new initiative. These students will be able to apply their skills to create jobs therefore making themselves independent individuals in the society. Certificates will be awarded to the students who have successfully completed the training. Hence, upon graduation, they would have two certificates; a degree on the course of study and an entrepreneurship certificate. Afterwards, students who have great business ideas may be given grants to aid their innovative skills in which the University will have its own quota as the business appreciates. Prof. Ogundipe didn’t fail to make reference to “unity” as one of the key values in the University as he said that, “both campuses are still considered as one school”. He ended his speech by encouraging students to acquire new skills in the society today and finally gave them the opportunity to ask questions.
The students asked questions on pressing issues in the College especially on the students welfarism. The first student who was concerned asked, “are we students of the University of Lagos or Medilag?” as he further mentioned a few instances in which he felt the college was been neglected. This created a little fuss amongst the other students as they seemed to be in unison. These issues included students who despite having paid their hostel fees haven’t got mattresses to sleep on or bunks, begbug infestations, lack of WiFi, unconducive reading conditions in cold rooms, high project costs, rules guiding exams and exams duration among others. They also mentioned that quite a number of students were unable to get accommodation in the College. Another pressing issue mentioned was the eating environment – which a student described as “unsuitable” – as a couple of students were diagnosed of food poisoning and gastroenteritis in the previous semesters; the student concerned having being a part of them. There was also the issue of the drainage system which leaves the college and teaching hospital flooded especially on rainy days. Another student asked if the University can permit students other than those in their first and second years to benefit from the new initiative.
The Vice Chancellor listened to all the questions asked, thanked them all for the “observations” and addressed each one of them, making references to the allocations given to the university as a whole – Federal government budget for UNILAG as a running cost for a year is 45million naira, of which 50million naira goes to electricity bills per month – which leaves a huge deficit in the cost to fund and run the University’s affairs. This led to the mentioning of our school fees and its insufficiencies, as opposed to private schools who actually pay tuitions. Concerning the Wifi, the VC said work is being done on it and would be an available commodity to all after the completion of ongoing fibre optic construction along Yaba Tech road. Accomodation issue in CMUL was addressed, with the major problem being “space to construct new hostel” as the already built ones are filled up and “money” to carry our the constructing project, this brought about the suggested solution by the VC… “you have uncles as politicians, bring them, even if the money was stolen, when it gets to us we will transform it and use it for constructions”.
Concerning, the issue of Bedbugs; the Vice Chancellor reiterated that it was a global problem and we all have our parts to play. Students to ensure a tidy room and clean environment, while the school management to ensure frequent fumigation. On examination duration, unit courses, resits and other related concerning, he stated that only the university’s senate council can determine academic matters, clarifying that the University’s ProChancellor cannot alter or determine academic issues. Therefore, it’s the Senate, NUC and professional body councils that determine and define the academic workload of professional courses and requirements to be certified and remain accredited. For the flooding problems in the college and teaching hospital, he said, “you are below the sea level… Whatever we do here, there will still be flood due to the canal and topography of the environment… All we can do is to keep begging the Federal government”.
Finally, on the expensive project funding which is a requirement to graduate from university, the VC said its imperative that you fund your projects yourselves except your supervisor is willing to use a part of his or her salary to fund it. However, in all of these discussion, the Vice Chancellor did not fail to emphasis on saying the truth always, regardless and the truth setting us all free.
The meeting ended peacefully with Prof Ogunlewe – Director of Students Affairs – inviting the COMPSSA electoral chairman to give the vote of thanks on behalf of the students and after which they stood again as the VC exited with a promise of visiting again very soon.