INVESTIGATION: Inside the OAU Accomodation crisis
NEWS DIGEST – In this report The News Digest takes a look at the 2013 NEEDS Assessment funds to Universities with a look at the accommodation crisis rocking Obafemi Awolowo University and the funds evidenced by document meant for constructing hostels.
The Obafemi Awolowo University has been shut down several times in recent years for the same recurring issue of inadequate residential facilities for students who have had to endure the living conditions in dilapidated hostels.
In 2013, the Academic Staff Union of Universities embarked on a strike action demanding for an improvement in the academic and social standard of Universities in Nigeria. This led to the introduction of the “Needs Assessment Funds” with the Government reportedly setting aside 1.3trillion naira for this purpose with a plan spanning five years from 2013-2018.
According to Wikipedia: “A needs assessment is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or “gaps” between current conditions and desired conditions or “wants”. The discrepancy between the current condition and wanted condition must be measured to appropriately identify the need. The need can be a desire to improve current performance or to correct a deficiency.”
Despite the needs assessment, accommodation crisis still rocks the revered OAU.
With major Universities in Nigeria meant to benefit from the 100 billion Naira first tranche reportedly set aside for the NEEDS Assessment funds, the Federal Government had warned that the procurement act of 2007, must be respected by the Universities.
The Part IV of the Public Procurement act of 2007, states the processes involved in procurement which includes accountability, following set processes and ensuring budgetary allocations enough to cover the projects being run.
HOW THE FUNDS CAME INTO OAU
In 2013, a letter was addressed to the Vice Chancellor stating that an amount totalling 3.05billion naira was approved by the President for allocation to the University as first tranche of the Needs Assessment program. Our findings show that the money was budgeted to the University for various things which include building new hostels.
A document obtained by this Newspaper and signed by one Professor Aderigbe, Chairman of the then Budget Monitoring committee set up by ASUU also corroborated our findings. The document was signed and sent to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, OAU branch congress on January 4, 2016.
FIRST TRANCHE OF FUNDS (PHASE 1)
The fund meant for phase one of the total fund expected was distributed as
1)200million Naira(Hostel Renovation)
2)250million Naira (Lecture theatre renovation)
3)Construction of New Facilities-hostels-2,000,000,0
4)New Lecture theatre(300million Naira)
5) Construction of new facilities-Laboratory and Library (300million naira)
All the above totals, 3.05billion naira(Three billion and Fifty Million Naira).
Included in the hostels meant for construction according to our findings and corroborated by the document obtained by this newspaper are, Post-Graduate Male Hostel,Post Graduate Female hostel, undergraduate Female hostel(Block A), Undergraduate Female Hostel (Block B) and undergraduate male hostel.
SECOND TRANCHE OF FUNDS(PHASE 2)
In a letter dated 11th of February,2014, the Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education sent a letter to the then Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University ,Professor Bamitale Omole, informing him that the second tranche has been approved by the President. The letter referred to the earlier one in August that authorised the release of the 3.05bilion Naira.
This second tranche which totalled the amount (2,617,407,407.22 billion naira ) was budgeted for the following;
2)Staff Offices (555,730,071.41),
3) Class rooms/seminar rooms /auditorium/lecture theatres(675,000,000naira)
5)Recreational facilities-(Football/Sports field)-101,146,014.28
6)Capacity Building /Staff training(200,000,000naira)
A group known as Concerned Obafemi Awolowo University Staff had in a letter written to the Economic and Financial crimes Commission in October 2015 and titled “OAU Management ploy to sabotage the treasury account operation as directed by the Federal Government” accused the Varsity Management under former Vice Chancellor Prof Bamitale Omole of fixing the amounts meant for hostel building and repairs of hostel facilities in banks. The grouped named
1)First Bank Nigeria (Gbongan branch) with the name ‘OAU revitalization program. The account number of the fixed money is – 202365928 and 1,308,703,703.61 billion naira was said to have been fixed there.
2)Zenith bank account number (1013549122) with 1,525,000,000 fixed in the account according to the group
The letter obtained by this newspaper was signed by
Dr Ajumobib Ajifolarin, Ms Oyedun Christianah , Suleiman Jimoh Akinwunmi, Aderibigbe Samuel, Abdulahi Abdul Kareem.
GENESIS OF THE OAU ACCOMODATION CRISIS
The crisis of accommodation in Obafemi Awolowo University is perennial and has been going on for years. The University boasts of over 35,000 students.
In a Daily Sun Newspaper report, Students had named overcrowding as the major problem the students have to grapple with in the varsity hostels. This is in a bid to be their brothers’ keeper. Owing to the shortage of accommodation vis-a- vis, students’ population, each legal occupant in a room is compelled to squat a minimum of one person who is not officially entitled to school accommodation. “How many occupants are in a room on the average,” I asked.
“Officially, we have three bunks allocated to a room, making a total of six persons in each room. But the reality is that you cannot have anything less than ten in a room. Everybody wants to be on campus because of proximity, safety factor and early morning lectures. As you already know, Ife/Modakeke crisis is there. You also recall that last year, Yoruba and Hausa people had a crisis which led to the death of about 100 people. So, students feel safer and more secure being on campus than living in the town. Squatting has become the order of the day,” the spokesperson of the group responded, in a report published by Daily Sun Newspapers.
Five Obafemi Awolowo University Students are currently been tried in court over issues that arose after the varsity forced out students from the Moremi hall in the varsity:
The hostels in the varsity are; Awolowo, Fajuyi, ETF, Mozambique, Angola, Alumni, Moremi and Akintola hall of residences.
However, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede had said his administration will make efforts aimed at ensuring that living conditions of students are improved. He also announced that no squatter (those who don’t have a bed space ) will be allowed to sleep in the halls. This led to a number of issues owing to the large number of squatters in the halls of residence. It was reported that halls have more squatters than legal occupants.
Although squatting in the institution dates way long back into many years. It is believed that bed spaces available in OAU’s hostels can only accommodate 30 per cent of the
According to statistics released by Dr Adesina (a former Vice Dean of Students Affairs in the University), 3,417 bed spaces in Fajuyi, Moremi, Awolowo, Education Trust Fund and
Akintola halls were reserved for 5,241 final year students for the 2012/2013 Academic Session.
In an online interview, Dr Adesina said OAU could not accommodate all 5,400 freshers. He said there are less than 9,600 bed spaces in the school – not enough to accommodate all its students.
“Yet, will we still accommodate other categories of students. The freshmen have been told that bed space allocations are on first-come-serve basis,” Dr Adesina said.
NEW HOSTELS MEANT FOR LEASE
Amidst this crisis as reported by The News Digest, the University would in the next three weeks from time of filing this report, complete a female undergraduate hostel in Parakin area of Ile-Ife from funds provided by the NEEDS Assessment funds.
Of all hostels listed the female undergraduate hostel seems to be the only visible new hostel built by the varsity despite the funds allocated to it.
The University however intends to lease it out to private companies.
WHY WE PLAN TO LEASE OUT THE HOSTEL
The Vice Chancellor had said the varsity is broke and would have loved to give it out to students at giveaway rates. The normal rate for hostels in OAU is 3090 naira.
The Vice Chancellor had revealed this during a chat with this Newspaper.
Public Relations Officer,OAU
When contacted the Public Relations Officer of the University, Olarewaju Abiodun said students cannot compare the new hostel to the old one and suggested that Students may pay more for the new hostel, towing the line of his boss (the Vice Chancellor).
“OAU is the owner of the hostels. The hostels are not built outside the University campus.
“Land upon which the hostels are built is OAU land. And are you aware that OAU land extends to Moro (a neighbouring town) where we have our Distance Learning Centre? So with this, we have the right, the entitlement to build any structure in any part of our land.
“So the school area you are talking about is not the only asset we have. So when we build hostel within the confine of our land, it is still within the school premises.
“We are the owner of the land, we are the owner of the hostels and where it is built is not outside the OAU campus,” the PRO emphasized.
Speaking about the affordability of the new hostels as compared to the old ones of #3,090 per bed-space, Mr Olanrewaju told The NEWS DIGEST that, “it depends on what you mean by affordability.
“Everything in life is affordable according to your purse and according to your budget. We can’t compare the affordability of the new hostel with what is obtainable with the old ones.
“There are private hostels outside campus which go at the rates of #60,000, #70,000, #100,000, and the likes. There is a hostel along Ede road which is #200,000 per room for
students, which we have some parents that have secured this accommodation for those children. So it depends on what you mean by affordability.”
The News Digest Contacted Academic Staff Union of Universities,OAU chapter chairman, Adeola Egbedokun, who said that although he could not react as he is not yet aware of the Varsity plan, the Union will not agree to such ;
“I can state it that if the varsity really plans this, it won’t work, because we won’t agree to it”.
ASUU had fought for the fund but it was not clear if the agreement reached by the union was for the hostels to be leased out.
Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics, OAU also said they were not aware of developments, when reached for comment, promising to get back to us.
Dr Oripeloye, who spoke with this reporter expressed shock at the reports promising to validate our report and get back to us.
This Newspaper tried to reach Professor Bamitale Omole former Vice Chancellor of OAU but his line failed to connect.
THE SERAP REPORT ON FUNDS IN NIGERIAN VARSITIES
A report by SERAP(Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project) in February 2018, showed that there is corruption going on unchecked in Nigerian Universities
” The report which used the University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as case studies identified other cases of corruption in the university system to include: “bribery to get a position; NYSC mobilisation before graduation; facilitating fake transcripts; short-circuiting employment procedures; auctioning university assets without authorisation; politicised disciplinary action; inflated contracts, admission irregularities and racketeering, result falsification; nepotism; sexual harassment; examination question leakages, abetting examination malpractices; and deliberate poor invigilation of examinations.”
SERAP said it also found cases of fund diversion and Certificate racketeering
“We also found several unresolved cases of diversion of university funds for personal use; embezzlement, mismanagement, unmerited allocation of hostel accommodation, discrimination in the allocation of staff quarters; certificate/transcript racketeering; improper use of university assets; inflation of cost of contracts, award of contracts to friends or relatives; and admission racketeering by non-staff.”
Mr Femi Falana in a report published by PREMIUM TIMES in 2018, had stated that systematic corruption is allowed to thrive in the Nigerian Education sector.
Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, said over N200 billion was disbursed by TETFund to Nigerian universities in 2017. “Neither ASUU nor any of the campus unions monitored the disbursement of the funds.
” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said “Also, how many companies are paying two per cent of their annual profit to support our university system? The bulk of the funds meant to improve the universities end up in the pocket of the contractors. Three vice chancellors are currently standing trial for looting funds allocated for running the universities.” Mr. Falana also said, “Based on the 1992 FG-ASUU Agreement, the Federal Government was compelled to enact the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act. The Act has established the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) as an intervention agency charged with the responsibility for managing, disbursing and monitoring the education tax to public tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Pursuant to section 1 of the Act, every company shall contribute education tax of two per cent of its annual profit to the TETFUND.”
Femi Falana went on to Lament that no Federal University or University has come out to declare how much they earn for conducting Post-UTME examinations.
IS THERE ANY OTHER VISIBLE HOSTEL PROJECT IN OAU?
Our reporters in the University did a check in order to determine if there are ongoing hostel projects to corroborate the documented claim of money released by the Federal Government but we could not find any.
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