‘No accreditation no exam’, UNIABUJA Students
THE University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) is at it again. Weeks after it was reopened following a three-month closure, it has been hit by another crisis. The school was to begin the second semester examination last Monday when trouble started. Engineering students disrupted the exercise as they insisted on the accreditation of their course for the school to know peace.
The protesters stormed the mini campus, blocking the main entrance. They barred students who were going for exam. Others already in the exam halls were sent out by the demonstrators, who tore their answer booklets.
It was the second time the students would be disrupting the degree exam. Last November, the aggrieved students went on the rampage, destroying properties. They also destroyed the portrait of the Vice-Chancellor.
In solidarity with the protesters, officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) were on the campus. Addressing the students, NANS president, Yinka Gbadebo, said the association would not rest until the management got courses accreditated by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
There were reports of arrest of some students by security operatives, who stormed the campus to disperse the protesters. No university official was available to address the demonstrators, who were chanting “no accreditation, no exam”.
Ikechukwu Johnson, 400-Level Mechanical Engineering, who was reportedly arrested by security operatives, said he was flogged by armed policemen. He said: “I was beaten mercilessly by the police. They arrested many of us, who were protesting against the non-accreditation of our courses. After we were flogged, they asked us to move into their Black Maria. They were ready to take us to their station when the Commissioner of Police ordered that we should be released.”
The institution has been seeking accreditation for all Engineering, Medicine, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine courses. Last May, some students took their case to the Federal Ministry of Education. Education Minister Prof Ruq’uayyat Rufa’i told them that the crisis would be resolved.
Prof Rufa’i was said to have given the management a six-month deadline to get the programmes accredited by November. The institution was only able to get interim accreditation for programmes in three of the faculties.
The four faculties were established seven years ago without inadequate teaching facilities. The Engineering faculty has four departments, comprising Mechanical, Civil, Chemical and Electrical and Electronics.
CAMPUSLIFE gathered that when the school resumed on February 4, the management did not open hostels.
The exam, initially slated for February 11, was postponed by one week. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Sunday Adelabu, who addressed students, last week, said the postponement was necessary to allow students settle down and prepare for the exam.
On February 6, the management opened the hostel for only final year students. A student, who identified himself as John Prince, said he came from Lagos and lodged in a hotel because he could not stay in the hostel.
Prof Adelabu said presidents of different departmental associations pleaded with him to extend when the exam will start.
But CAMPUSLIFE gathered that the departmental presidents met with Engineering students last Sunday, pleading with them to allow the exam begin without hitches. Our correspondent learnt that the Engineering students stood their ground, saying “no accreditation no exam”.
The aggrieved students complained that since 2005 when the faculty was established, no student had either graduated or gone for National Youth Service. The Engineering faculty has two graduated sets but none of the graduates has been mobilised for Youth Service. There is also a complaint that the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is yet to accredit the four engineering programmes.
To facilitate a successful accreditation, CAMPUSLIFE gathered, Prof Rufa’i gave N4 billion grant to the university to upgrade its facilities before the NUC team’s visit. One of the protesters said: “We kept ourselves abreast of the movement of the money from the ministry to the school bank account. We thought the money would be used judiciously but here we are; nothing has been done to upgrade any facility in the Faculty of Engineering.”
NANS president Yinka, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, he would meet with the management to ascertain the situation of things. He promised that he would obtain the accreditation document from the Vice-Chancellor to show the students.
During the protest, there was fire in Red Bricks, a Hall of Residence on the mini campus. A room in the hostel was razed before men of the Fire Service arrived to put out the fire. Aondo Akura, a final year student, said he saw smoke coming out from the block and immediately alerted residents.
The university’s Public Relations Officers (PRO), Mr Garba Waziri, could not be reached for comment.