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Hit By Services Cuts Close To Exams, OAU Asks Students ‘To Read Books Anyhow’

Less than three weeks to the commencement of examinations at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, performance enhancing services, such as library access, remain unavailable on the campus. There is also no electricity supply to the ‘academics’ – the area on campus excluding the halls of residence and the staff quarters. Using the classes in the area for reading has therefore become impossible for students, except they bring rechargeable lamps.

Our correspondent, Thursday, was on the Ife campus to capture developments ahead of the rain semester examinations, starting on January 29.

The management asked the students to ‘read their books anyhow’, stating it had become incapacitated as workers responsible for the services are on strike.

“We should have stayed back, if there isn’t full agreement between the school management and the Non Teaching staff,” said a student Dosunmu Ayodeji.

OAU reopened for academics on January 2, after it was forced to close in December due to the strike embarked upon by non-teaching staff unions who remain in opposition to the prescribed sharing ratio of the earned academic allowances between them and the academic staff union.

Since the strike commenced in December, there has been disruption in the delivery of vital services, including electricity and library service, for which the non-academic staff are traditionally responsible.

But without resolution of the industrial dispute, the management recalled the students last week and announced exams start date. Students now complain of unpleasant experience as they prepare for their exams, lamenting their inability to access the library and the darkness that covers the academics, conventionally for reading at nights.

Consequently, Mr. Dosunmu said the power outage had meant increase in the prices of printing off and making copies of materials needed for their studies.

“It’s not also unimaginable that students are left in an over populated class, in this harsh weather; and no source of mechanical breeze to cool the heat. Then we expect learning to take place?” He asked rhetorically.

Another student, Adeoba Oluwafemi from the College Health Sciences, condemned the silence of the school management on the salient issue of power outage in academic areas and even in one of the female hostels, Moremi Hall.

As electricity supply to the academics remains cut, students have had to read in their rooms and the cafes within the halls, both in living areas.

But Adeoba complained these alternatives are conducive to studies, citing distractions from room mates and the size of the cafes, which would become ‘jam-packed as more students use them in absence of electricity at the academics and access to the library.

Then, there is criminal angle. “Some students are using the loss of power supply in those areas to perpetrate evil ranging from sexual harassment and assault to theft,”  Adeoba said.

“I hope the management can resolve the problem very soon before the situation gets out of hands.”

But there are students, who feel unaffected by the situation.

Fowowe Deborah and Sage Oluwaseun, students of English language and Philosophy departments, respectively, were of the opinion that since there is light in halls of residence, they are okay. Oluwaseun added that “students should go and get lamps and torches.”

Moreover, Dunnex Samuel, the coordinator of Education Rights Campaign (ERC) at OAU, alleged subjecting students to ‘untold hardship’ was a deliberate choice made by the school management. He said, “mass failure and insecurities will be inevitable effects of the seizure of light. ”

“It is either the management is prepared for academic activities or not, a man cannot manage death,” Dunnex said.

Nothing can be done … students should read anyhow – management

Isiaq Aransi, the Dean of the Division of students’ Affairs in the university, who spoke to our correspondent on Thursday, said the school had become incapacitated. “There is nothing we can do. Students have to manage and bear with us.”

Efforts to ease the tough situation had paid off by half as the school was able to supply electricity to the halls of residence, he said. He, however lamented that the refusal of the striking workers to return to work had resulted in lack of power supply to the academics.

“We had to reach a concession before they allowed us to have the halls of residence illuminated. Students should read their books anyhow they can,” he said.

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