The transformation of UNIBEN’s campus
Ekehuan Campus of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was neglected for many years by successive administrations in the institution. However, the story has changed as the campus has witnessed a transformation, reports IFUNANYA OSAKWE (UNIBEN).
The Ekehuan Campus of the University of Benin was the first campus of the institution in Edo State when it was founded in 1970. From the Ekehuan campus, it moved to Ugbowo Campus, which is the permanent site.
As a result of this movement, the Ekehuan Campus, which houses the Mass Communication Department, Fine Art Department, Theatre Arts Department, Early Childhood Education Department and Public Administration Department suffered neglect for many years. The classrooms and hostels were not what they used to be.
There were incessant protest over lack of light and water by students in Ekehuan campus. Often the protests were said to have achieved very little result as promises to enhance welfare were unfulfilled. On many occasions, students were reported to have killed snakes in the hostels and its environs.
Former Head of Department of the Mass Communication Department, Dr. Comfort Obaje, in a chat with CAMPUSLIFE, listed some challenges the campus was facing when the current VC assumed office.
She noted that the Department of Mass Communication had lost some key facilities that aided lecturers in effective teaching and research.
Nevertheless, the administration of Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lillian Salami, has put measures in place to address issues facing the campus. Now members of the staff and students have cause to smile.
Prof Salami has made her impact felt not only on the Ugbowo campus but the once neglected Ekehuan campus.
Hostels in Ekehuan have been renovated. The lack of electricity and scarcity of water now belong to the past. The environment now wears a new look.
The Head of the Department (HOD), Mass Communication, Dr. Festus Olise lauded the VC for transforming Ekehuan Campus and UNIBEN at large.
He said: “Madam Vice Chancellor is the magic mother of the moment, who makes the impossible possible through her developmental strides.
“The institution has been greatly transformed to meet up with its name and prestige that it had been known for.
“In fact, everyone in Ekehuan and Ugbowo campuses must be very impressed with the Vice Chancellor. Amid scarce resources, the Vice Chancellor has gone ahead to transform Ekehuan Campus in less than two years into her administration.
“For instance, one of the nagging problems students and staff complained about, which was irregular or no power supply, had been resolved by her. Today, Ekehuan Campus boasts of almost 24 hours power supply.
“Furthermore, I make bold to say that she has given Ekehuan Campus a face-lift,” he said.
He also noted that gone were the days when classrooms were not enough to accommodate everyone, adding that the problem had been remedied. He also said two new lecture halls had been built on the campus to ensure students learnt under conducive atmosphere.
“These halls have the capacity to contain 500 students and it is a great relief to the students and staff,” he said.
Olise said the reviving and repositioning of the students’ Work Study Programme had brought relief to students.
“This programme is designed to assist indigent students in UNIBEN by giving them the opportunity to work while studying to provide extra income for themselves.
•Front gate of the campus
“Students in the programme are meant to work on part-time basis to balance their studies as well as earn money. To me, the repositioning of this programme clearly shows that the institution is well grounded, just like what we have in universities in developed countries where learning and earning are practised simultaneously. For instance, such is practised in the University of Northumbria, United Kingdom,” he said.
Adepoju Oluwatosin, a 400-Level student expressed happiness at the changes on the campus.
According to him, there are a lot of changes and the students are delighted.
“The campus really had a new look when we came. Quite conducive than I ever experienced in my few years of staying here on campus.
“It appears all the cleaners and other staff that should see to the welfare of students are now taking their jobs quite seriously unlike in the past.
“This is a good development and we are happy about it. Also, the issue of lack of water and light has been worked on.
“We are grateful to the VC for also giving us two large lecture theatres. It will go a long way to ease the overcrowding we experience during lectures,” he said.
For Omoregie Sylvester, a 300-Level Mass Communication student, the lecture theatre allotted to the Mass Communication Department was expected as it has the largest student population on campus.
“The allocation of the lecture theatre was expected because in terms of numbers, Mass Communication has the highest number of students on campus and, of course, it deserves the hall.
“Ekehuan Campus although is trying in the aspect of cleanliness but that is when it comes to around the school environment. However, when it gets to inside the classes, It is nothing to write home about.
“As regards light and water, there is marked improvement. Though these amenities are what we should enjoy normally, it is still a great relief to the students in the Ekehuan Campus because we all know what we faced because of lack of light and water for years.
“However, we hope for more good things to come and we thank the VC for keeping true to her promises,” he said.
Another student who preferred anonymity said: “Ekehuan Campus has always been seen as a glorified secondary school because of its unattractive look and old buildings. But I do not think that people will see it that way again.
“The environment now looks clean and even the hostels are looking tidy too. It has come as a great relief because this has been one of the reasons students do not stay in the hostel on campus.
“Also, the water issue has been resolved. At least, since I resumed, there has never been a day when I did not see water running from the tap. There is also constant electricity.
Another student of Mass Communication Department, Okiemuta Rukevwe, said authorities in the institution were committed to the welfare of staff and students.
Rukevwe described the Study Work Programme as a great initiative.
She said: “Look at the Student Work Study Programme that is ongoing. This is a great initiative and it will help those students who are unable to fund their education. This is a commendable effort on the part of the school management.”
Source: The Nation