BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
University of Benin (UNIBEN) is being threatened by gully erosion. The authorities of the university took Sunday Vanguard round the erosion sites and the revelation was shocking because the problem is capable of bringing one of the leading universities in Africa into extinction. Over five houses at the senior staff quarters have already given-in to the gully while other buildings in the university and the neighboring communities are on the brink.
The UNIBEN public relations officer, Harris Osahenhen, said the university may be forced to relocate from its Ugbowo main campus if urgent steps are not made to check the menace. “Over four houses in the senior staff quarters (SSQ) have caved in to the gully and we have relocated some of our staff from the houses in the affected areas in order to avoid deaths.
The gully has cut off the university from its host communities and this is making life unbearable for students”, he said. “When the gully was discovered in 2006, N1billion was required to salvage the gully problem. But now that it has expanded, we may need about N2billion to be able to embark on serious work on the gully to ensure that the university community which is a citadel of learning is safe for learning and research”.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the university authorities, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof.Osayuki Oshodin, had made several efforts to get the attention of the relevant agencies to the plight of the institution but with little or no success.
Oshodin, who spoke on the issue, explained: “We have set up a committee and the committee has come up with a proposal, it is a palliative measure that is still going to cost us millions but we still don’t have the money. I would have loved to tackle the problem but there is no fund.
The NUC, Federal Ministry of Education have even helped in telling the whole world about the problem but no help is forthcoming. I have gone to corporate bodies, I have written to every body including NDDC but no help has come yet”. He went on: “We have lost houses and if we don’t do any thing now more houses will go. It is almost breaking UNIBEN into two.
The UNIBEN fence that demarcated us from Ekosodi village is gone. That village has also lost some houses and it is really sad. As it is now, we don’t have access road to that community because the gully erosion has cut us off from the neighboring communities. The problem requires heavy funding to be able to fix it and the university cannot afford that.
To fix the problem will cost billions of naira. My fear is that if the gully is not tackled today, it will continue to expand and that will be dangerous for us. We have evacuated some of our staff who live close to that area in order to avoid any casualty and it has not been easy managing the situation”.
The VC also spoke on his other projects. His words: “A good number of the projects were done from our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF) has been very helpful.
“We have been able to set up these infrastructure as a result of their financial contribution through the Federal Ministry of Education. You can see our new School of Pharmacy building, new lecture theater in the faculty of Engineering, about Four of them, new lecture theater, new building for Faculty of Education, the Mass Communication building in Ekenwa Campus, and the massive renovation in Ekenwa campus”.
We have a new School of Basic Medical Sciences on going and there is another new one thousand lecture theater for Engineering. A good number of our lecture theaters have been completed”. He added: “I have been able to achieve all these because this administration has been able to block all the loopholes in terms of fraud because the money generated from IGR were never seen before but right now we make judicious use of it and we are ready to open our books for you to see.
And those enemies of progress are not giving up, in life there are people that don’t like change. But they have no choice but to go along with the new government of the day that believes in progress. No body can stop us from developing the university, UNIBEN is one of the leading universities in Africa and it is our resolve to maintain the standard and we are determined to do that”.