By: Toyinbo Olumide
In the recent time, no alumnus of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall has been inducted into the Alumni Roll of Honour. Well, maybe, no alumnus is qualified for the mean time? Maybe not, Zik Hall is blessed with ground-breaking alumni who are currently remarkable in their various fields. Maybe, there is no roll to induct them into? Maybe. The Zik Hall Alumni Roll of Honour plate is gone. First, its gradual diminish was spotted about three years ago when the writer got admitted into the University. During the Hall registration, he spotted it. Perhaps, due to low sense of maintenance of residents of the Hall especially the Hall Executives, the Roll of Honour plate was by then beginning to be a real eye sore, moribund and haggard, gradually being stripped of its prestige and beauty, its painted coatings and letters already taking their quiet leave. The imprints which having seemingly been through wars, lost the names of our heroes imprinted thereon. Its position was the legendary B-Block basement, maintaining a horizontal position as people took looks then. How great! Then next, it was said to have disappeared. A recently graduated Zikite who preferred to be anonymous claimed that the last time he saw it was during one common pot day, the residents were using the alumni roll of honour plate to pick beans. Whether his statement is true or false, the disappearance of the plate remains indisputably true.
On the voyage to know where the prestigious Alumni Roll of Honour plate has been, the writer was hinted that it is still located in the Hall. The new location, quite funny, is in front of one of the shops facing the car park of the Hall, precisely Lagbaja’s shop. It is tattered beyond possible restoration, maybe recycling it can only make it useful. One then wonders, if this plate of honour has had any honour after it has been passed on to us! Or if we ascribe a minute respect or honour to our alumni, dead or living, upon whose honest toils, innovations, and wealth of knowledge and wisdom our existence in the Hall still and will continue to rest unobtrusively. How oppositely happy will they be at this point? How did it get caught in this horrible dilapidation, or its current location? And more questions would develop in a curious mind.
The Zik Hall Chairman, Mr Ojo Olugbenga was the first point of contact to channel those emerging questions. When questioned on how it got to the present location, he stated that “it was the Hall Warden that brought the idea that we should take it from there (due to its ugly state), it is currently at Lagbaja’s place.”
As regarding the time the Roll of Honour got to that deplorable state, the Hall Chairman stated that the sorry state of the Alumni Roll of Honour didn’t start in the recent years, in fact, he asserted that he met it in a not-too-good state when he entered the University (about five years ago) but back then, it could still be managed. It was leaned on the wall (unlike being mounted to the wall) of the Block B basement before it was advised to be removed.
It can be believed that nothing is without cause. The writer enquired from the Hall Chairman on what he sees as the cause of the very bad state of the Alumni Roll of Honour plate, he claimed that “though, the will to change it is not there, it ought to have been changed long since.” Upon probing further, he opined that “Generally in Africa, we lack maintenance culture, if it was properly maintained in the previous administrations; it wouldn’t be at Lagbaja’s shop. I will say it’s maintenance…on the part of the Hall Executives, Legislators, the Hall Management Council and all Zikites. The maintenance ought to be a collective responsibility and it (the Alumni Roll of Honour plate) has a lot of value. I believed something happened along the line and it happened.”
It seems like ages since any alumnus got inducted into the Alumni roll of honour, it was inquired from the Hall Chairman if the state of the Alumni Roll of Honour plate is the reason why no one has been inducted in the recent time. He opined that it might not necessarily be, emphasising that there is no correlation. He claimed if there is the intention to induct an alumnus into the Alumni Roll of Honour, then there will be moves to renovate the Alumni Roll of Honour plate. Enquiring further whether Mr Chairman has the intention of inducting anyone, he stated that he and his team are planning to induct people this year but “unfortunately, those we planned to induct have been very busy and they won’t be able to come, as they are top-notch politicians and (you know), elections are here. Although, talks are still on-going but it has not been forthcoming”. On whether they induct any alumnus into the Alumni Roll of Honour or not, if they would still renovate the plate, he stated that ‘we are very optimistic this administration will do it (the renovation), with that of the past Chairmen, Secretaries, Roll of Honour. Some things are delaying it right now- logistics and funds. We have got some names and trying to get some other details as some have removed before we got in. But then, if we are not able to, it will be recommended to the next administration. It ought to have been changed since and we will try.”
The state of the Alumni Roll of Honour speaks for some other entities not properly maintained in the Hall in the time past and the present. The poor maintenance culture has been developing from time past and it is presently fast turning to a plague in the Hall. Just recently, the window-nets of all rooms in the Hall were replaced with new ones. It took only days for some residents to start to tear it off, in the guise of “I misplaced my key”. It took special sanctions imposed by the Hall Warden to see to the proper maintenance of it. This is applicable to some other facilities in the Hall. The gradual loss of maintenance culture is not only dwelling in the midst of Zikites but also in the University at large. If facilities provided are properly maintained, they last longer enough for our own use. Not using the facilities well or being nonchalant about how collective entities are maintained, is an aberration of the intellectualism we claim to portray. It is not only UI-based issue, it is a general issue affecting the country as whole, properties in the public and public properties are seen as no-man’s property and they are badly used or are not properly maintained. The onus is on all and sundry to regain every sense of maintenance and see public properties the way private properties are seen. With this, our society becomes saner.