At a time when the economy is witnessing slow growth and the Federal government’s drive to provide infrastructure is at low ebb, several federal universities, especially the first generation ones have left their properties to rot away without any effort to maintain them.
Universities and higher institutions all over the world are centres of excellence; intellectualism, research and teaching aimed at solving societal problems and extending the frontiers of knowledge.
However, lack of infrastructure and maintenance for existing ones is robbing many of Nigeria’s elite ivory towers of such landmark achievements.
Over the years, Nigerian universities have had dwindling budgets when compared to student enrolment. Budgetary allocations fall short of reference standard as stipulated by UNESCO, that 26 per cent of a nation’s budget be for the educational sub sector.
Hence, serious gaps exist in the developmental programmes of most government institutions. In some universities visited by The Guardian, their buildings remain eyesores, and shadows of their old selves because they are not adequately maintained neither are the facilities contained therein.
Brown patches and dead tree stumps are common sites; waste disposal and management are also neglected area in our universities.
Hostel blocks, Faculty and Departmental halls among others are not spared.
They are numerous. From the gates of the universities to the administrative blocks, among others are wear and tear associated with public buildings in Nigeria.
Although, interventions by the Education Trust Fund (TETFund) have seen many of these facilities upgraded in most of these ivory towers, however, there also seemed to be absence of a well cut out mechanism to ensure the maintenance of existing infrastructure.
It is therefore not surprising to see new developed structures lying close to dilapidated ones suggesting that the new ones will likely go the way of the older ones.
For example, the well-furnished Tayo Aderinokun Memorial Theater donated to the University of Lagos by Tayo Aderinokun’s family is standing opposite a poorly maintained Unilag Guest House.
The guest house, which boasts of a cocktail garden and gallery as well as an event hall that can be booked for both corporate and social gatherings has been in poor state and in dire need of upgrading to meet international standards.
There were also buildings opposite the upgraded University Medical centre, which are apposite of the structure seen at the health facility.
A lecturer at the University of Lagos, who preferred anonymity, said, although a lot of face lifts are going on some of the institutions, many laboratories and structures housing engineering departments and printing press are in despicable state which could not support real research work needed for industrial development in Nigeria.
He gave example of the building housing the public works department of the University of Lagos and the printing press as some of such facilities that are in dire need of maintenance and upgrading.
The lecturer, who commended TETfund for its intervention in the nation’s universities called for a well-marshaled plan for sustainable maintenance of infrastructure in the institution.
The story is not different at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) as frequent changes in administrations have impacted in the growth of projects abandonment.
Each new administration has strived to award new contracts abandoning the ones already in place.
One abandoned projects that stir any visitor on the face as he moves round the famous University is the multi million naira Akanu Ibiam stadium.
The stadium, which became the cynosure of all eyes in 2008 when the university hosted the Nigeria University Games (NUGA), was to be constructed with tartam track but abandoned midway.
At a time in the life of the institution, the place was converted into lecture halls for the students.
Gradually, it moved from one level of dilapidation to another, that presently it have been fully taken over by grasses, even as it has become the habitation of rodents and other dangerous animals.
The situation of the stadium was recently compounded when some long span roofing sheets left at the site with the intention that work would continue someday were stolen.
The stadium project is part of the Games Village initiative of the then administration. Presently however, walking round the games villages portends danger due to its level of dilapidation and abandonment. The cricket pitch planned for synthetic grass has been overtaken by grass and now serve as evening football pitch for students on exercise.
The swimming pool built to Olympic standard during the NUGA games is now a ghost land in the University.
Costain Construction Company that handled most of the projects allegedly left in anger three months after the NUGA games following irreconcilable difference between it and management of the school.
The stadium is not the only facility that is dilapidated in the premier university. Hostel blocks, Faculty and Departmental halls among others are not spared.
They are numerous. From the gates of the university to the administrative blocks, among others are wear and tear associated with public buildings in Nigeria.
Some of the hostel blocks like the Mary Slessor and Bello Halls, which are exclusively for female students; the Eni Njoku Hall, Peter Odili Hall, Alvan Ikoku Hall, Mbanefo Hall and Kwame Nkrumah Hall are dilapidated.
The three-storey Zik’s flat stand desolate and abandoned. The building requires serious renovation as parts of the roof are already given way.
The proposed faculty of Social Science building was abandoned at the second floor and has remained like that. At the engineering and Agriculture departments, the situation is the same.
Other places where students of the school inhabit for one thing or the other is not left out.
For instance, some of the refectories in the school managed by private individuals who partitioned the place, according to spaces allotted to them, have nearly all the louver glasses fallen off.
At the Enugu campus of the University, uncompleted projects liter here and there to indicate that the institution has had its fair share of lack of continuity.
No new hostel has been built for sometime now. The maintenance of existing ones has been very irregular, thus denying comfort to their occupants.
The same situation pervade in University of Ibadan, the nation’s premier university.
The university, which recent witnessed massive development of hostels and sundry buildings, has been bedeviled with poor state of laboratory equipment and facilities.
For instance, the Institution’s biochemistry department is in serious need for intervention as the Laboratory, which is also doubled as a classroom in the department lacks adequate space for lecture theatre.
The Guardian gathered that the students rely on sharing a laboratory for two different classes simultaneously.
But commenting on the situation, a senior officer of University of Lagos, said the institution has noted the observation and will actually do something about it.
Also a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, who pleaded for anonymity said the institution is mindful of the huge infrastructural challenges but could only tackle them one at a time.
He hinted that efforts on provision of the needed laboratory equipment as well as building befitting laboratories for research would be done with the provision of funds.