Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: 529 ABU Students Use One Toilet Daily - Report

The average ratio of toilet to users in most public universities is 1:20, but Nigeria's premier Northern University, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, breaks the record with an all time high of an average of 529 students using one toilet.

Graphic details of how the university, now celebrating 50 years of existence, has fallen from grace to grass is contained in a report which took a comprehensive inventory of facilities and assessment of the general condition of 61 public universities.

The Needs Assessment report put together by an 11-man committee headed by former Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) with former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as member, says the state of facilities and resources at ABU need "urgent attention."

These record holding toilets are located at the Asma'u Mustapha Hostel, initially meant to accommodate 312 students but now has 3,178 students residing in it. With only six toilets at the disposal of these students, an average of 529 students use one toilet daily.

"The state of toilets in the university is of grave concern. The toilets are grossly inadequate. On the average, over 40 students share a toilet," says the report.

But it isn't only the toilets that need urgent attention, its learning resources were described as 'obsolete and non-functional' so much that, it's two programmes- Architecture and Engineering, which earned it a revered reputation, now only have infrastructure and learning resources that are in a 'parlous state'.

The university barely has interactive boards, public address systems, computers, magnetic boards, projectors, video-needful resources required to make teaching and learning easy.

As for the capacity of its 1,815 teaching staff, 42% have PhDs, 36% with Masters and 22% have first degrees.

This commendable quality of teaching staff is quite the opposite at a very young university within the same state, Kaduna State University, only eight years old. KASU is bottom heavy with Lecturers I to Graduate Assistants constituting 88% of the staff strength, only 1% are Professors, 5% Readers and 6% Senior Lecturers. Only 14% of full time staff are PhD staff, the rest are either Masters or 1st degree holders.

The university's inability to attract high degree staff might not be unconnected to the stumpy release of its total allocation. Though N4 billion was allocated from 2009 to 2011, only 17% was released which is about N700 million.

The crisis of dilapidated hostels resurfaces at the Kano State University of Science and Technology Wudil. Established in 2001, the university inherited a large majority of its physical facilities from Teachers College, most of which are as old as 54years.

It's only hostel "is improvised and very unfit for human habitation. It is ramshackle and massively overcrowded with looming risk to health and safety," says the report.

KSUT has only one professor, no reader and 151 of its 165 full time lecturers are between the ranks of Graduate Assistant to Lecturer 1. Laboratory space is inadequate. 2 theatres constructed by TETFund in 2010 are the only excellent facilities.

Again, state government funding is nearly non-existent as only 6.5% of the N1.9bn allocated as capital grant from 2009 to 2011 was released.

Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto has a total of 16 abandoned projects. Most of the equipment in the laboratories and machineries in the workshops are obsolete. The university has not commenced any form of automation in any of its libraries.

One irregularity noted by the report is that the Vice-chancellor's office has the highest number of non-teaching staff- 390 out of 1,822.

In Kogi State university, every on-going project is being funded by TETFund and all abandoned projects in the university are those of the state government. 23 buildings are in a state of rapid deterioration and need urgent attention.

Generally, there is an average of four abandoned projects per university in Nigeria. Most of the abandoned projects are funded from capital allocations and are mainly students' accommodation and lecture theatres.

The report accused university managers of expending huge resources in erecting university gates, wall fencing, and Vice Chancellor's lodge, purchase of exotic cars while their libraries are still under construction, lecture rooms overcrowded and laboratories are bereft of basic facilities.

It is perhaps for these gross inadequacies, it recommended that federal government stop establishing new universities but rather concentrate on improving and expanding facilities of existing ones.

Proliferation of universities, the report says, has not improved access or assured quality.

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