Thursday, 11 August 2016

Bedspace Palava: Where Will I Lay My Head? - R.A Oyetunji

Every human being needs a place to rest his head, especially after a long day of unending lectures and long walks, just like birds go to their nests; sheep to their pens; and the crabs back into their holes.  We all need somewhere to retire to after the toiling of each day.  The students of Obafemi Awolowo University, like every other living creatures, are not left out in this natural arrangement. 

Over time, Great Ife students have come to live with the distributional arrangement of the available accommodation (bedspaces) by the university’s management.  In what can be called a sharing formula, the residential halls on campus are usually distributed between large numbers of freshmen and final year students, with very small ratio going to the stalites.

And just as every land is governed by rules, the Land of Obafemi Awolowo University is not an exception.  The University’s management has always spelt out in clearest terms some conditions attached to the temporary ownership and occupation of the accommodation once allocated.   One of the chief rules is that no student should on any account, transfer his or her allocated bedspace to another student for any reason whatsoever. 

One would expect rules to always be followed.  However, due to the peculiarity of the Nigeria as a country and the Nigerian man, it is hard for some rules to thrive. This is evident in widespread speculations that students have always gone about selling, gifting or swapping their allocated bedspaces.  This according to rumours and street-talks have been in existence over time.

In recent times however, there appears to be a new twist to the whole issue, especially in this current academic session.  The University management apparently admitted more freshmen than the usual, thus having a very serious problem in fixing these extra numbers into the already not-enough accommodation spaces.  This has resulted in more insufficiency with large numbers of freshmen and finalists left stranded and “homeless” even after multiple batches of accommodation allocation.

As humans that we are, we tend to always look for possible way-outs in every difficult situations.  This has forced the affected students into looking out for limited alternatives; either seeking accommodation off campus, squatting (which is also illegal winks) or trading with the few ones lucky enough to secure one.  Well known as the simple law of Economics is, an increase in demand without a corresponding increase in supply tends to lead to inflation. 

However, it has not been “business as usual” for those who opted for “trading”.  There have been  whispers of overpricing and undue inflation on the “price tags” of the said “commodities” in question.

For example, the bedspace that is said to usually go for 30 Naira in previous years are now being slapped with a price tag of about 70 Naira, those of 20 Naira now going for as high as 50 Naira and so on.  While the sellers have cited the current unfavourable economic conditions of the country as main reasons for the price hikes, the buyers apparently disagree, arguing the increase is baseless as the University’s management never increased the official accommodation fee of about 3,000 Naira with a kobo, hence the fee shouldn’t have gone up.

This practically sky-rocketed prices has incapacitated majority of students who had hoped to secure accommodation by the option of trading, though as illegal as it is, as they are unable to meet these high prices.

Perhaps the "Elujobic" wave can help blow some more relaxing haven for these helpless learners. If the Central Bank of Nigeria can grant a request of sponsorship to sail a  'yatchy' Senate building which is not our headache for now, many more private organizations and even public institutions will be willing to touch the lives of students by helping them to build hostels.  Until then, students need to understand that stealing is not different from corruption and that accommodation is not Naira/Dollar exchange...

R.A Oyetunji is a Final year student in the Faculty of Science, OAU Ife and a Member of the OAU Peeps Team.

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