By Olaitan Humble
Securing hostel accommodation at the University of Lagos is not as easy as it sounds. The sad reality on UNILAG campus is that students who are fortunate to acquire bed spaces in the hostels are usually not up to half of the undergraduate population.
As a result of this, students without bed spaces are left in a dilemma. Either to “squat” with their friends (which is illegal according to the University Management) or to pay a exorbitant prices to acquire accomodation within or around the University environ or even worse.
Finding a roof over your head at the University of Lagos campus is a real struggle as there are limited bed spaces to concurrently cater for the myriad of undergraduates. Students have to think about their academic duties, while also constantly worrying about accomodation. What is then expected of their academic performance?
Education in Nigeria appears to be a facade. The University of Lagos Leadership have been vocal on the poor state of funding by the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria. This has in a way affected undergraduates’ learning process setting them up against a major morass and eating up the output quality rendered to the academia. Many a time, the University Management has disclosed their plans to build more hostels but setbacks which have occurred are due to nothing other than lack of funding capacity.
There are students travelling far and wide from different parts of the country to get quality education at the University of Lagos. It would be rather unfair if these students are subjected to a survival-of-the-fittest system. These students are especially prone to exploitation by greedy hostel agents within and around the campus. These students are forced to learn under rigorous conditions since they don’t enjoy the luxury of attending lectures from their hostels on campus, rather from outside the campus. They have to beat the regular Lagos traffic congestion, or risk arriving home very late due to the congestion.
The actual process of acquiring bed space is another level of struggle. The poor quality of server on the website used for balloting cannot contain as much students vying for bed spaces. As a result of this unfair system, many students miss out on successfully securing bed spaces and most end up with the battle of “squating.”
Students deserve better. Equally, they deserve a place to rest their head on the University Campus and to be called “bonafide.”
As is customary to campus language, “squatter” is the term of address to students who were not assigned bed spaces while “bonafide” is the term of address to students who were successfully assigned bed space at the beginning of an academic session.
There are notoriously other classes of hostel residents who were not assigned bed spaces, most renowned being the “floaters.” Obviously, these squatters and floaters and whatnots in the hostels occupy the larger sector in the pie chart of hostel residents compared to the bonafides.
Though these struggles have led some students to suggest to the University to continue the virtual learning program which is not feasible at the moment, it is only realistic that the University Management treat students’ welfare as top priority.
Thoroughly, the University of Lagos is one of the universities in Nigeria with a high score of acquisition of grants from top organisations, both national and multinational. Students have grown tired of the conversation of lack of funding by the government and are demanding improvement.