UNILAG hos­tels in­fested with bed bugs

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Nu­rudeen Oye­wole, La­gos

Thou­sands of stu­dents of the Univer­sity of La­gos (UNILAG) who opted to stay on cam­pus for con­ve­nience and aca­demic op­por­tu­ni­ties are now fac­ing some der­ma­to­log­i­cal chal­lenges be­cause their hos­tels re­cently got in­fested with bed bugs.

Daily Trust cor­re­spon­dent, who was at the univer­sity, ob­served that apart from bed bug in­fes­ta­tion, the ex­ist­ing hos­tels were in need of re­pairs.

An ob­vi­ously-ex­hausted Kay­ode Thomas (not real name) wob­bled as he climbed the stair­cases to his room on the sec­ond floor of Mariere Hall of Res­i­dence. While in the room, he re­moved his trousers and shirt, pulled out a cloth­striped mat­tress, placed it on to the floor be­fore ly­ing on it.

“Af­ter gru­el­ing eight-hour lec­tures, you don’t ex­pect me to sleep in that bed­bug­in­fested and rick­ety bunk,” Thomas said.

The room which was meant to ac­com­mo­date two stu­dents now ac­com­mo­dates just one. Thomas’ room­mate whose par­ents live some­where in Mushin, La­gos, had since aban­doned the hos­tel three weeks ear­lier.

Ac­cord­ing to Thomas, the com­plaint of his room­mate was that he could no longer cope with the many health and en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards he was be­ing ex­posed to, es­pe­cially with the men­ace of bed­bugs which had been some­what chronic. On the other hand, Thomas has no rel­a­tive in La­gos he can run to. His par­ents live in Akure, Ondo State and the 22-year old had re­solved to bear the brunt till the end of se­mes­ter in a cou­ple of days.

“We will soon write our ex­ams. I can’t af­ford to leave at this stage. Even if I do, there is no money to se­cure a bet­ter ac­com­mo­da­tion out­side the cam­pus. So, I chose to bear the brunt for now while I take so­lace in in­sec­ti­cide which I use at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals to kill and/or weaken the bed­bugs,” Thomas said.

In­deed, there

are many sec­tions of Mariere Hall vicin­ity that have be­come eye­sore. Apart from the rooms which the stu­dents them­selves have made un­in­hab­it­able through poor hy­gienic cul­ture, the pave­ments, bal­conies, stair­cases and hos­tel walls reek of dirt. The laun­dry sec­tion is not in any way bet­ter as wa­ter leak out un­con­trol­lably from the two plas­tic tanks serv­ing as reser­voirs. Many of the toi­lets were not in bet­ter con­di­tion ei­ther.

The poor state of the hos­tel fa­cil­i­ties in­ter­est­ingly pro­vides “quick money” to some who en­gage in brisk busi­nesses. In many strate­gic sec­tions of the hos­tel, there are sign­posts di­rect­ing stu­dents to call a spe­cific phone num­ber or add a black­berry pin. The ini­tia­tor deals in the pro­duc­tion of “sniper”, a pop­u­lar in­sec­ti­cide of­ten used in stop-gap room fu­mi­ga­tion.

“Our beds are bed­bug cor­ro­sive. And I can say this is just a way of vic­tim­iz­ing us. Since I se­cured ad­mis­sion to the school four years ago, the man­age­ment has not changed the mat­tresses. So when they came up with the prom­ise af­ter our protest that they will sup­ply us new mat­tresses and fix di­lap­i­dated sec­tions of the hos­tels, some of us took their words with a pinch of salt,” a 300-level stu­dent who re­sides at Mariere Hall said.

Yet Mariere is not the only hos­tel with the sour tales. King Jaja Hall, re­garded as one of the finest hos­tels be­cause it is of­ten re­served for the ‘best stu­dents,’ is not spared. Toi­let fa­cil­i­ties at Wing

sec­tion of the hall are

A de­pre­ci­at­ing even as stu­dents still make use of them, thereby al­low­ing fae­ces and urine stench to fes­ter.

Stu­dents liv­ing in Shodeinde Hall said they were fac­ing safe wa­ter short­ages and toi­let fa­cil­i­ties were poor.

“For five minute af­ter turn­ing on the tap to fetch wa­ter, all you will see is one oily fluid. By the time the real wa­ter be­gin to trickle out you are ap­par­ently con­vinced that the wa­ter is no longer use­ful for any­thing, any­more. The last time we had a new set of mat­tresses was dur­ing the Na­tional Sport Fes­ti­val known as Eko 2012. Some sport fa­cil­i­ties in UNILAG were used and that ne­ces­si­tated the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment to bring in new mat­tresses,” Ben­son Ajila, a stu­dent in Shodeinde Hall said.

Such chal­lenges were not dif­fer­ent in Henry Njoku and El-kanemi Halls of res­i­dence which were also vis­ited. Such ag­o­niz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, the stu­dents claimed, had forced them to stage a peace­ful protest few days ago. They said the protest had be­come their last re­sort as sev­eral at­tempts to re­solve it am­i­ca­bly with the man­age­ment failed.

But while re­spond­ing to al­le­ga­tions made by the stu­dents, the univer­sity's Deputy Reg­is­trar on In­for­ma­tion, Olagoke Oke, de­scribed the stu­dents’ protest as un­war­ranted, say­ing in­for­ma­tion at the dis­posal of man­age­ment in­di­cated that those who cham­pi­oned the protest were ac­tu­ally look­ing for a way to ex­tend the date for the sec­ond se­mes­ter ex­am­i­na­tion.

"The protest is not in any way jus­ti­fied. We have found out from Univer­sity of La­gos Stu­dents' Union (ULSU) and its ex­ec­u­tive had told us that they were not the ones be­hind the protest. We have found out that stu­dents who were be­hind the protest were just look­ing for a way to shift the forth­com­ing ex­am­i­na­tion which is billed to com­mence in two weeks.

"On the al­le­ga­tion of bed­bug in­fested hos­tels, there is no truth in that. The UNILAG man­age­ment re­places hos­tel mat­tresses at the end of ev­ery ses­sion. Af­ter the ex­ams, this ses­sion will close, and then stu­dents can be rest as­sured that new mat­tresses will be made avail­able again," Oke said.

At a pre-con­vo­ca­tion press brief­ing held at the Univer­sity Se­nate Build­ing in April this year, the Univer­sity’s Vice Chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Ab­du­rah­man Bello, had said the in­sti­tu­tion is in dire need of ad­di­tional 26,500 bed spa­ces.

"The univer­sity has been con­tend­ing with se­ri­ous short­age of ac­com­mo­da­tion for both its stu­dents and staff. We have a full time stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of about 35,000 while only 8,500 bed spa­ces are avail­able. Ef­forts are be­ing con­cen­trated on ex­pand­ing these. We are em­bark­ing on a 1,000 bed spa­ces hos­tel cur­rently but this is a far cry from the need. We are how­ever ap­peal­ing to well-mean­ing Nige­ri­ans who can as­sist the univer­sity in hav­ing in place hos­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion for our stu­dents to kindly do so,” the VC said.


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