•Era of neglected projects over, says Samuel Frank, NDDC Commissioner, A’Ibom
By Chioma Onuegbu
UYO — WEEDS have out-shined a 500-bedspace hostel embarked upon in 2004, about 12 years ago, by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, at the Nwaniba main campus of the University of Uyo, UNIUYO, Akwa Ibo State.
Investigation by NDV showed that the Commission has allegedly abandoned the project, which is 90 per cent completed for no clear reason.
The management and students of the federal university, who are hard hit by the prolonged abandonment, during the week, voiced their disenchantment.
NDV gathered that the hostel project, started in 2004 is 90 per cent completed, but the Commission had declined to complete it, forcing the majority of the students of the federal university, especially at the permanent site (main campus), to stay off campus due to accommodation challenges.
Vice chancellor lamentation
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Enefiok Essien, responding to questions on some projects inherited on assumption of office, last December, lamented the long abandonment of the hostel by NDDC, which he described as disheartening.
He wondered why such a laudable project that was about 10 percent undone to be was deserted for so many years, whereas the university was faced with serious students’ accommodation problems.
He said, “The 500-bedspace hostel by the NDDC at the main campus has been abandoned for many years and the work has even gone up to the roofing stage. It is disheartening. But we have written to the new management of the commission about the abandoned hostel.
“We (management) believe that if the hostel is eventually completed, it will be quite a big relief to the accommodation challenge faced by this institution. And I want to see to the massive development of infrastructure in this university, I want to see that the ranking of this institution is improved in my time.”
He added that despite the lean resources, efforts were being put in place to give a facelift to the main campus through the completion of projects inherited and new ones initiated by his administration, such as the 1000, 600, and 500- capacity lecture theatres respectively, ICT complex phase1, faculty of Agriculture and a classroom block.
“Some of them like the 1000 – capacity lecture theatre and staff block have been completed, furnished and occupied. Others are at various stages of completion,” he stated.
Students cry out
Some students, who spoke to NDV at the main campus, lamented that they spend so much on transportation from the town to the main campus due to lack accommodation and appealed to the NDDC to ameliorate their pain by completing the hostel in next to no time.
A student of the Department of Chemistry, who simply identified herself as Uduak, said, “Most of us come to school from town and we spend nothing less than N300,000 or more every day. It has not been that easy for many of us. I learned that the project was started many years ago and later abandoned. You can see that it is a very big hostel and if they had completed it, many of us would have been staying within the campus. For me, coming from off campus everyday is too stressful.”
A graduate’s consternation
A graduate of the university, Godwin Sifon, said he was surprised that the NDDC hostel was still unfinished, noting that he met the building while it was under construction.
He said: “It was rumoured that the hostel will be completed then before I graduated because students were facing serious accommodation problem. We were told the NDDC will soon complete the project, which is why I am surprised to come here after three years to see that that project has been abandoned.
“The way it is, it appears that there is no hope for its completion because you can even see that the place has been overtaken by weeds and there is no sign of equipment around the site .It is unfortunate because the students have been suffering, especially as they moved many other faculties from the town campus to this permanent campus.
“The accommodation problem has worsened because the only existing hostel, ‘the presidential hostel’ was built for the engineering students, who were the only occupants at the permanent site then,” Sifon noted.
NDDC commissioner gives his word
However, the NDDC Commissioner in the state, Mr. Samuel Frank, in a statement by his media assistant, Daniel Etokidem, said that the era of abandoned projects in Akwa Ibom was over, as his administration will no longer tolerate derelict projects.
Frank, who recently toured the commission’s project sites in parts of the state was said to have vowed to take up abandoned projects in the state.
“I promise to draw the attention of the Managing Director and the NDDC Governing Board to issues militating against the completion of the projects and also ensure that contractors ready to deliver on their jobs are provided with adequate funding to complete all the abandoned projects. The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to the development of the Niger Delta region,” the commissioner was quoted as saying in the statement.