On University of Ibadan’s toilets
SIR: Many people have reacted, negatively or positively, to the photo-documentary on University of Ibadan’s “dirty toilets” by one of the institution’s alumni, Ibukun Babarinde which recently went viral on the internet. Sonala Olumhense’s elegant write-up in The Guardian of Sunday, February 16, on the matter is well noted. He contended rather forcefully that during his studentship in the university, the facilities were exquisitely maintained. “I do not recall toilet facilities, in any hall, library or faculty that you hesitate to walk into.” The situation has not significantly changed.
Stakeholders in the UI Project deserve some explanations on this matter. We cannot pretend that we have five-star toilet facilities in our halls of residence. However, the logic of absolute generalization is always not exactly clever. Although, they are aging, it does not mean that the toilets are not clean or cleaned. As a public institution and pride of Nigerian academia, we cherish the culture of maintenance. We continue to strive for excellence in service delivery and in the provision of functional physical infrastructure. Any visitor to our university will be impressed with the clean environment, and part of the reasons for this is that the cleaning service is outsourced.
In the last three years that Prof. Isaac Adewole has been the Vice-Chancellor, he has shown a lot of commitment to students’ welfare. Added to this is the management’s dedication to improvement in the university’s teaching and learning environment. Specifically, he has done everything possible to restore the dignity of studentship in the halls of residence, laboratories, lecture theatres, etc. This has been a period of consolidation, in terms of the development and revision of academic programmes, and in the maintenance of infrastructure.
The issues of toilets and other allied matters are of serious concern to the university management. It should be noted that a huge amount of recurrent expenditure is devoted each month to cleaning services in the 13 halls of residence as well as other residential, academic and administrative zones of the campus. Despite this expenditure and the outsourcing of the cleaning of halls, the quality of service may still not be satisfactory. Lamentably, the idea of cost-recovery is not a popular item before our student body and their parents/guardians. For instance, whereas a UI undergraduate pays N14,000.00 per session for on-campus lodging, other undergraduates pay between N70,000.00 and N100,000.00 at private hostels located in neighbouring areas of Agbowo, Samonda, Bodija and Ojo. This means that a huge subsidy is being injected into maintaining those facilities on which there is a lot of pressure owing to high student population.
We view the criticism of these stakeholders in good faith. It is a wake-up call for more work in the proper management of our facilities. Indeed, there is evident correlation between a clean environment and conducive learning.
Having said this, we charge our alumni to apply themselves to cooperating with us in addressing the challenges of underfunding for which the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) recently went on strike. The path to meaningful legacy in higher education is working together. Working to expand the frontiers of knowledge is the responsibility of all. Seeking for the cooperation of our alumni to assist their alma mater is an article of faith in other civilized parts of the world. Regrettably, it appears that some of our alumni have not got the message yet.
• Olatunji Oladejo,
Director of Public Communication, University of Ibadan
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