ROOM 32: STILL A LECTURE ROOM OR A PROPOSED MUSEUM?

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It is appalling, ridiculous, if not scandalous, for buildings to be renovated, not constructed or re-constructed, for more than two solid years, if the cash and the man-power are readily available. The Faculty of Arts has spent more than thirty months in the name of ‘renovating’, not ‘constructing’ a small lecture theatre. Even if the gadgets intended to be used are to be shipped from abroad, eighteen months are enough to have them delivered. Such circumstance, we believe, does not even exist because the materials used for the renovation, though foreign products, were all bought here in Nigeria. Magnificent buildings have been constructed within few months. The International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan is a very good example. But what is the bane behind the opening of Room 32 in faculty of Arts?

It should be recalled that the last time the room was used was in 2015. Then, the ancient lecture room was in a state of manageable dilapidation. Some of the antiquated chairs therein had been begging for repairs and overhauling. Perhaps the reason the attention of the faculty administration was drawn to it. Good response. The renovation started. The whole faculty had to make do with the already-insufficient lecture rooms.

In the course of the renovation, lectures were clashing. Some lectures were not held while some were held in an unscholastic and pitiable venue during these bleeding times. A case study is the several instances where classes were held at the spectators’ stand of the Lawn Tennis Court. Peradventure, it could be okay by the lecturers, but it definitely did not go down well with the students as most students complained of dirty seats, inability to write as there are no tables at the Lawn Tennis Court and loud annoying noises coming from blaring car horns, chatting students and blasting loud speakers. Lecturers may decide not to honour a class outside a proper venue, but the students have no choice than to come for lectures. In the event that such lectures were not held, the students loitered around, wasting their productive time. Even during the examination periods, the allocation of venues had been done haphazardly.

It was rumoured that the room would be opened by the first semester of this session. Student’s hopes had been re-ignited because the room appeared to have been completed, giving credence to the rumour. But the room was not commissioned. It has hitherto remained securely locked. The situation has become so pathetic that students no longer see the room as a lecture room. For the current 200 level and 100 level students, they can only relate with the history of the room from their senior colleagues. They are being denied the opportunity to use the historical theatre.

From the foregoing, the questions that come to mind are: What is the reason behind the shenanigan? Does the management have any motive for not opening the room? Are they experiencing cash crunch? Are they waiting for Queen Elizabeth II of England to come and commission it?

All these questions and a host of others are needed to be asked in this material time. Explanations should be provided on why the room is yet to be commissioned for use. As it stands now, there are only eight normal lecture rooms available to the whole faculty. Room B106, a prison-typified acclaimed lecture room, excluded. Though lectures that have been allocated to this B106 have been scholastically turned-down by some lecturers and the few that have attempted to honour the allocation, did that at the pity of the students.

Inadequate infrastructure is a major issue that has been tearing down the Nigerian education system since time immemorial. This issue is made worse in the Faculty of Arts where we have very limited facilities for a large number of students and one of such facilities that could bring a slight relieve to the headache is under lock and key. Is it not said that ‘desperate times require desperate measures?’ These are desperate times and there are no signs of desperate measures taken by the faculty management to re-open Room 32 and ease the problem of insufficient lecture venues.

We plead with the faculty management to see the need to re-open Room 32 for lectures as soon as possible. This said room has lectured great minds like Achebe, Soyinka, Okigbo and the likes. Hence, re-opening the room would inject vigour for greatness into the sub-consciousness of the students apart from easing the faculty of clumsy lecture room allocations. It should also be noted at this juncture that this is the second semester; a time when a lot of activities take place within the Faculty.  If Room 32 is not re-opened at a time like this, the situation would be made much worse as the already inadequate lecture venues would be substituted for event centres. And if the faculty management is proposing to make it a museum, then let the horse put forth its resilient shoes as soon as possible.

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