“A national affordable housing program would be an anti-poverty effort, human capital investment, community improvement plan, and public health initiative all rolled into one…. You can’t address poverty unless you address the lack of affordable housing in the cities” – Matthew Desmond
In the self-acclaimed first and the best, “hostel accommodation is not compulsory; it is not a requirement to being in the University…,” has become a popular aphorism from the altar of the “Constituted Authorities” whenever the question of the unaffordability of the recent hike in the Hostel accommodation fee is raised. To make matters worse, just like Mr. President who said ‘Nigeria youths are lazy,’ not only that, but also scavengers of ‘freebies’, here in Unibadan, you will be made to listen to hooting truths such as “nothing is free, even in Freetown.” But then, it is just as always, the few among the many cases of which is which; what is what; and who is who when placed side-a-side, in contest, our leaders in this intellectual shrine (Unibadan) and our leaders in this sovereign geographical entity (Nigeria). Of course, what they know, but fail to admit; or what they don’t know, even in their know-all is that University of Ibadan students and by extension, Nigerian youths aren’t begging for freebies, nor looking for Freetown where all things seem free to them… but as humans, who have rights to be entitled to privileges, seek that these privileges (of course which are rights in sane societies) be not made to go beyond reach of the common man. The most vocal habitat of sermons against discrimination are tertiary institutes, clothed in all righteousness. Also, perhaps what they also fail to recognize is that discrimination doesn’t exist ex_nihilo, it starts with inequality. And as such, if discrimination is to be erased, inequality needs be made a ghost mourning in the inferno at first, then all can be made right (contextually). Of course, not all (people) can become equal, but money – to fill the belly of some, or to make some others feel very important, purchasing new wagons or flying on a first class ticket – shouldn’t be a barrier for those who desperately want to better their lives and having succumb to the belief that education is the succor they need, have done their assignments, burnt the midnight candles, and made it this far. They should be encouraged, not discouraged.
Of course, “there is no time for emotions” in the words of one professor; and moreover, ‘we’ have grudgingly paid the dues, our dues, the undue dues, and thus, the reason for this is not anymore to cry wolf about the hike in accommodation, but decry when the result of dues paid will be due – the rational manifestation of the apology upon which the hike was premised. The University of Ibadan students in their helpless nature and as worthy students in “character and learning” decided to reason with the management and in return expect “adequate housing”, and welfarism.
But before even threading the paths of explicity, it is essential to know what adequate housing connotes and entails.
According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, everyone has a right to adequate housing and this right should not be interpreted narrowly. Rather, it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. Still according to the UN CESCR, adequate housing, fundamental and basic, must have the following three (3) amongst others:
Ø Availability of Services, materials, facilities and infrastructure which entails safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, refuse disposal et cetera
Ø Affordability in the sense that housing isn’t adequate if its cost threatens or compromises the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights.
Ø Habitability such that it guarantees physical safety or provide adequate space, as well as protect
occupants against cold, damp, heat, rain, wind and other threats to health and structural hazards.
Now, to take each into contest, it is obvious that what is obtained in the University as housing for students is not anywhere near “adequate housing”.
To talk of safe drinking water is to remind Zikites of the nightmare they have as waters. To many, the water is purposeless (besides for washing). Useless for drinking, for cooking and even for bathing. A fresher once said that her sister in Awo hall prayed for her not to get admitted into Awo hall as the water had made enemies with her beauty, especially her facials, and thankfully she didn’t. But then, I-blockites in
Queen Elizabeth II hall live in a different world where they have to scurry their buckets down to H block just to fetch water, mount or drag and carry all the way up the stairs required of them as the case may be. It is no longer abnormal for there to be constant power supply and yet see Zikites carrying buckets to fetch water in Indy hall. It is either for the useless nature of the water or as the case most often, the lack of water.
To omit ‘adequate’ and talk of sanitation, is to have never entered any Hall of Residence in Unibadan – the “first and the best.” Corridors everywhere are littered with refuses and perhaps that is what the Hall managements provided as refuse site for students, who knows. Bathrooms and restrooms are the most terrible anywhere else. Many are no longer usable, limiting the number of facilities available against the multitude. The Great Independence Hall perhaps relishing goofiness and not greatness is the worst
here, the path to the bathroom and even its subsidiary have become swimming pools with ‘slippery water’ above your feet. Who knows, the day it will first get its needed attention will be the day it causes fatality to a student (I pray not). Students now move from block to block to evade the nemesis of a restroom/bathroom spanning 5mins for an equal 5mins bathe. A 300l Katangite decrying the situation of the supposed restrooms when probed shockingly revealed he often go all the way to
Bello, Faculty of Law or Faculty of Science (which he calls the best) just to relieve himself. When quizzed about emergency situations, he revealed it happened to him a few times and BSF UI, just behind Katanga republic was his escape route.
And once again affordability? No need to gloss over that again. However, the difference here is the significance of making accommodation affordable to the majority, if not all. The necessity of this being beyond what the pocket has but as well what other needs need be met. To meet up with the accommodation fee, many others would have to shrink inconveniently their feeding habit, will have to forfeit other basic needs seeking the attention of their depleted pockets.
Lastly habitability… security? It has become a norm and it is generally accepted we have little to receive if the giver is the security arm of the University. Theft cases have become a norm. Unknown invaders make mockery of the University security and cart away our valuables. Of course, even a whole human
being was abducted from this same citadel. Of course we can’t complain of adequate space lest the number of intakes reduce. But then, all the torn nets before the increments remain, locks remain unlockable, doors themselves pale in health. The exposure to mosquito bites has become a part of our university existence and experience. Rainfall penetrate through the windows and flood rooms (owing to inadequate window panes) and corridors as consequence.
#120, 000 per room is no joke and further acts of horrible living condition are supposed to be historic by now. True governance involves staying true to words and keeping to agreement as well as seeing to the basic welfare of the people. Perhaps, it should be the case that true governance is a myth that can only be told, ethics that can only be taught in classes and dream that can never be actualized. Because, of course this is Africa and most importantly, Nigeria, where everyone has been infected.
Taking a rest at this port of discovery,
“Fair and affordable housing is a basic right for all New Yorkers and all Americans.” – Nydia Velazquez. Though we might not be from Newyork nor a citizen of America, yet, we don’t deserve or have to live less than them. They are humans, and as such, we should not be forced also, to live less like humans.
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