AFRICA, Article, FEATURED STORIES, Investigative Report
Nigeria: Over 70% Public Universities Are Poorly Funded
Over 70 percent of public tertiary institutions in Nigeria are presently poorly funded. Their students are confronted with infrastructural, social and moral decay, investigations revealed.
Though both students and lecturers in the schools across the country have embarked on a series of peaceful and violent protests for decades over the state of infrastructure, it appears they have been forced to cope with it as most of them are no longer bothered about the decay and other challenges confronting them.
Most of the students have to cope with the decaying infrastructure, inadequate facilities, moribund laboratories & obsolete equipment, unsightly toilets & hostels, irregular power and water supply and poor learning environment, in addition to experiencing tuition increases almost every year.
Some of the institutions that have become a shadow of their former selves are University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State; Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State; University of Calabar, Cross River State; University of Ibadan, Oyo State; Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna State; Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State; University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; Kogi State University; Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun State, and University of Abuja, Federal Capital Territory among others.
At Ambrose Alli University, about 45 percent of the physical facilities are in a state of severe deterioration and require urgent intervention to save them from a total collapse, while the essential general learning resources are either not available or grossly inadequate.
Some students of the institution told our correspondent that only a few of their major lab equipment is in excellent condition, while most of them are either bad or in reasonably serviceable condition.
A course representative on the campus, Mr. John Obi, said, “A state of emergency should be declared in the university as a way of saving it. The university is in need of almost all basic learning resources except the blackboard–The chairs we use in the classrooms are bad, and the school and government have failed to do anything about it after several complaints by the students. We stand to receive lectures at times because there are no seats or the classrooms are overcrowded.”
Similarly, students of OAU have been expressing their displeasure over the deplorable state of both the university’s residence and lecture facilities.
A resident of the famous Adekunle Fajuyi Hall, OAU, Mr. Ade Olaolu, compared the state of the facility and others (hostels) with that of the maximum prisons across the country. According to him, many buildings are not being maintained by the university management.
He said, “The university management keep admitting more students to the school not considering building bigger lecture theatres. No major building has been constructed since I was admitted into the school four years ago and the admission rate is almost twice of what it used to be.”
A student of the College of Health Sciences, Miss Oyinade Osho, said “The chairs in our hostels are spoilt while our lecture theatres are filled with non-functioning projectors and speakers. We plead with the management to fix them all before we organize another protest, which might not be peaceful–We demand a holistic overhauling of the general welfare condition of students on campus. The state of our halls of residence is nothing to write home about.”
She added, “Despite the unjustifiable increment in school fees regime introduced by the former vice-chancellor, Professor Bamitale Omole, it is deplorable and unfortunate that nothing serious has been done to improve the general welfare condition of students. We demand the new VC should make it a point of duty to revamp and make better the general welfare condition of students on campus.”
Students in the universities in the south-south part of Nigeria have lamented over what they described as lack of funds for education in the Niger Delta.
The South-South Students’ Assembly has raised their concerns over their plight in several fora pleading with the federal government to set up a team to confirm their allegations over poor management of the tertiary institutions across the region.
The group also recommended that the team should monitor the spending of funds released for the development of infrastructure and provision of facilities in tertiary institutions across the country and urged the government to establish scholarship scheme for students in the Niger Delta, to address problems of funding in education in the region.
The National President, SSSA, Mr. Michael Christianus, said, “We ask for the creation of an Education Federation Account to raise enough capital to rebuild the infrastructural decay in our school system. The government should also inaugurate an education task force to monitor the funds released to develop infrastructural facilities in our universities and polytechnics nationwide — The sector lacks the master plan aimed at addressing the development of universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education, by adopting a university and polytechnic per geopolitical zone for infrastructural overhauling and development.”
The situation in the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, was no less disturbing as the students lamented over collapsed or broken ceilings within the school compound, overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated lab furniture, and lack of potable water.
At the University of Port Harcourt, toilet facilities at the lecture halls were found to be in a terrible state. “Five out of 10 toilets are out of use. The floors of the toilet in use are completely flooded and with a foul odor. The state of the toilets could lead to an outbreak of an epidemic,” one of the students, Mr. Peter Okoye, told our correspondent.
However, critics argued that aside from the challenge of inadequate funding facing the institutions, the development can be attributed to the reflection of the level of corruption, social and intellectual decay within and outside the education system.
An Educationist, Dr. Ayoola Oni, alleged that the leadership of the universities, including the pro and vice chancellors, VCs, is also enmeshed in corruption manifesting in fraud, inflation of contracts, embezzlement and other scams.
For instance, he alleged that there is no evidence of transparency in the way some of the federal universities were run because there are issues relating to financial transactions and capital development of the university shrouded in secrecy.
“Some of such universities, whose leadership had been allegedly involved in fraud/diversion of funds are UNN, FUNAAB, and OAU among others. One of the ways to ensure accountability and better infrastructural development is for lecturers and Academic Staff Union of (Nigerian) Universities to be involved in monitoring monies released to the institutions,” he said.
A retired Professor, Mr. Charles Nwosu, attributed the development to the poor rating of the public schools among its counterparts across the globe.
He said, “Government should be concerned about the rot in the nation’s universities and how it can be stemmed so that the universities and other tertiary institutions could, before long, stand as models and be able to compete among the best in Africa, at least.”
Adding, “No Nigerian university has been able to make the list of world’s 1,000 best universities in recent years, a shameful situation for a resource-rich nation like Nigeria. The same problems are affecting the state governments, a situation where the state governments majorly rely on allocations from the federal government to run their affairs, with little emphasis on generating their own revenues internally.”
This development, according to education experts, has become a menace that government needs to curtail in order to save the country’s education from collapse.
A Professor, Research and Innovation Office, University of Lagos, Wellington Oyibo, told our correspondent that the development in Nigeria academic system will only portray the country’s image in bad light.
He said, “The development may not help the image of the country. People outside the country will say it’s a country where the students always complain about poor infrastructure. The fraud allegation doesn’t encourage the commitment of international partners and sponsors may not be interested or attracted to the universities. A stable system builds confidence and attracts sponsors.”