For both the institution and the town, the upgrading of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) in Ikorodu to Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH) is a new reality they have to brace up for.
While the institution has commenced necessary steps to meet up with necessary requirements, the people of Ikorodu say they are very excited about the development, also ready to live up to the expectation of being a university town.
“We are happy about it. We are extremely happy to have the university. In fact, it is a pride for us here,” said Mr Adeyemo Iyanda, an engineer and resident of the host community.
For 45 years, LASPOTECH existed as a polytechnic, and the host community has had to put up with the students that come in and go out of the community since it became the permanent campus of the polytechnic in 2000.
“The community is ready because before it became a university, when it was a polytechnic, we knew what we faced here. A lot of challenges, cultism, running here and there, but with the struggle of the community to arrange for the Onyabo (local community security outfit) with the Baale, we have been able to suppress them,” Engineer Iyanda explained.
But his friend who is also an engineer, and goes by the name Okey James, seems to think that the security should be a collaborative effort that must involve the government, the school, the students and the community.
While explaining why he thinks so, he urged the school to provide an house hostel for its student and assist in improving the state of the community.
“The population will definitely be much more, but if students mind their business and face their studies, security will still be within manageable state. But if they come to do otherwise, it won’t favour them, it won’t favour the community. In fact, many people here will pack out. The people around here are supposed to service the university, so that students can come in and within four years, finish their programme and pack out.
“But by the time the place is not conducive, then you will be going far away to get what you want. There should be a symbiotic pattern of living: face your programme, so that the community can service you. It is a welcome development having university in any area; the estate, the land, even businesses will have value. The government, the institution and the community must collaborate in terms of students’ security and community security as much as students do their bits to be safe.
“I also want to urge the authorities to assist the landlords to give this place a facelift, and make it look better. You can look at the road when you were coming to this place, it is bad. I am aware they have Town Planning students in the school. They can use this place as a model to help the community to be better; in terms of the road being accessible, and the housing looking better. The street as well should be well planned and identifiable so that if for example parents come to ask about their children, it will be easy to trace.”
Olanrewaju Adeosi, who called himself as Atorise, expressed optimism over the development the university will impact on the host community.
“In this Nigeria, you know parents don’t like sending their children to polytechnics, but when it is a university, they will send them here. All the rich people will send their children here and it is going enhance the community, even in business, people will benefit from it as they will make more sales.
“If you don’t have enough people in the community, they are hardly going to be developments. When you have many people, for instance now, when the sons of two senators or three senators are here, and their father is thinking towards coming to visit them, he is going to look at the environment, and how it looks like, he is going to pass through this our road, and not like the bad state of it; so he would sought to repair it and other amenities. Also, those NEPA people will give us enough light.”
THE IMPACT ON BUSINESS
Godspower Ozioma has a shop where he sells staple foods for members of the host community that has majority of the students living in. For him, no news is better news for his business other than a university coming to the area.
He also recounted complaints of students of the polytechnic who are his customers claiming to have been cheated by the new development.
“Some people who are still polytechnic students, most of them do come here and complain that they were cheated; that they graduated with ND, and HND but these new ones now are the ones who will enjoy the new university. For me, whether polytechnic or university for me, everything is school, all is certificates.”
“And to me, as a business person, I am happy that a university is coming here as more people will come in and it will make us sell more. You know most parents don’t allow their children come to polytechnic, those rich parents, so with a university here now, they will send them here. For me, it is a good thing.”
Stephen Sunday who runs a boutique where men’s clothing can be seen hung in a showcase to entice passersby also thinks the community is ready to have the university.
Sharing his sentiments was Mrs. Hannah Oyenuga who has a grocery shop in one of the streets in the host community. Mrs. Oyenuga submitted that there is no right time for the community to have the university as against what some keep claiming that the time is not right.
“It is not bad. Talking about whether it is the right time or not the right time, there is no time they bring it that it won’t be the right time. And for the students, we are waiting for them, we are ready for them, and we welcome them. And for the business, it will be bigger than before.”
WHAT STUDENTS THINK
This reporter met with Abdulsalam Abdulrahman, an HND2 student of the Building Technology department who claimed that at the moment, having the school upgraded to a university is not the best thing the school should have done.
For him, the school still lacks good facilities and competent lecturers, as such, he does not think the school is ripe to be a university.
“First, the school has limited lecture rooms for some programmes. Two, they have limited and poor lecturers to suit the university. Moreso, the institution is currently having the Administrative complex and Library complex in the same block which ought not to be so.
“Lastly, the institution needs more smart security like the CCTV around the school premises. And also it needs to rehabilitate most of the structure and the students’ activity centre.”
Kehinde Safiu is a Mass Communication student and the President of the Press Club of LASPOTECH. He stated that the school is ripe for a university and that the readiness of the community can be seen in the influx of investors coming to build hostels in the host community.
Safiu, however, called on the government to intervene when it comes to the bad road network the host community has.
“The school is ripe for a university. And when it comes to academic excellence, LASPOTECH is there. They have what it takes, they have the landscape, they have the land mass, and there are lots of infrastructures here and there. They are looking towards building more structures. There are lots of construction going as regards the conversion.”
“The community is ready. They are prepared. If you go to the students’ community at First Gate, a lot of people have started building houses, and the houses you find there are hostels. Presently, there is high rent for hostels and all those signs are revealing the fact that these people are ready as most people are now venturing into hostel business in first gate community. Because they know that the need for it is now, so there are preparations for it already. Just that we need local government intervention. There are so many shortcomings. One, there is a very poor road network at First Gate community and this is challenging to the students. So if the government can intervene, now that the school has been converted to a university, in putting necessary things in place as in the next couple of years, the First Gate community, the Ikorodu community will be more than UNILAG and its counterparts. By this time, we should be seeing tarred roads here and there that link one community to the other.”
Safiu also stressed the need for a hostel saying that alongside stable electricity and facilities, it is what the school should put in place.
“They need hostel. We have a large land mass, so we have enough land to at least house the students. So one main challenge they need to curb is hostel. They need to have provisions for hostel, or else they will just end up being like LASU that does not have hostels on campus, and students are left to go out to live off-campus. We can still consider that there (LASU) the land mass is small compared to here where there is more than enough land mass to have a hostel housed in the school. They also need facilities and stable power supply.”
We Need the Government for Road, Security – Baale
The Baale of the host community, Baale Origaokgbegun Adeowo Olayiwola Idriss, is happy with the new university status but noted that the only thing the community needs now is government intervention on the road network and the security of the community considering the fact that more students are bound to flood the community.
“We only need government intervention. If you go round the community hosting the school, you would see the road infrastructure is zero. We need good roads. We need a secondary school here. All that you are seeing here now are self-efforts, community efforts. We need assistance of the government in terms of security as we cannot totally rely on the local security, they are trying their best, but we need more.”
Planning is key – Peace and Security Expert
Dr. Ofonime Emmanuel Bassey is a resident in Ikorodu, and also a United Nations Peace Trainer and Security Expert. For him, having a university in any community is a welcome development, and he agrees that the Ikorodu community is fit to have a university.
He, however, stated that planning is essential to seeing that the university functions efficiently as much as the polytechnic did during its time.
Dr. Bassey stressed it will require collaborative efforts between the government, the school, the host community and the security outfits to see this happen.
“In the past, we have experienced a lot of security challenges but I want to appreciate God for security, and the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force and the grassroots security people. That is not to say other members of the security community have not contributed their quota, but Onyabo has been impressive and doing well in communities in Ikorodu.
“It is a welcome development, and having hosted the polytechnic before, there is no kind of institution the Ikorodu community cannot host. And I must acknowledge that there will be concerns when there is a system upgrade like this in terms of new courses, new systems and more people coming in, so it is the duty of the stakeholders, right from the state government down to the university community and the host community which is Ikorodu to brace up to the challenges that will naturally come with this new development.
“Shall we say we don’t need development because of the challenges that are bound to come? No. Every community needs development, so when development comes, you prepare ahead of it. I expect every stakeholder to be in this case, driving the preparation. The state government, Lagos state police command, the Onyabo, Local government chairmen, the CDAs and all stakeholders must brace up and do the needful in respect to the new development.
“I hope they are taking security measures into the reconstruction of the gate. It is not enough to just build a gate, security that comes with it must be put it into consideration. Also as offices are being renovated, new ones should come in. There must be a solid peace and security planning strategy that will help service the students’ community and the host community. And in this strategic planning, stakeholders have to be called together, including the members of the community and community leaders and other security agents, including faith-based organizations, for they will also be affected.”
Dr. Bassey also highlighted the need for continuous security education, technological security measure as well as an environmental plan that mirrors security.
“Education needs to be prioritized. Peace and security education cannot be substituted in anything no matter how highly technical your security apparatus is. Continual security and peace education is so key at getting the best of results at all levels of partnerships.
“Orientation programmes should be taken seriously as peace and security should be for everyone including the students, the staff members, the community, off-campus and on-campus security agents. The use of technology is also key in 21st century security measures. Access control systems must also be prioritized and used at the gate and within the campus. Video surveillance system and alert systems put in place at strategic locations in the university.
“The school must also ensure its constructions and designs of buildings reflect security. Security must be incorporated into the environmental design from the gate, an example is having a see-through gate. The flowers planted, the buildings, security measures must be incorporated into the designs. They passively discourage crime and solidify security.”
Certificates to be issued
It was learnt that the current students of the institution will not receive degree certificates when they complete their programmes. The degree course will commence with new students who will be admitted on required qualifications.
The school’s Public Relations Officer was not available to speak on the implications of the new status and other arrangements for the commencement of the university operations.
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