Saturday, 31 October 2015

The University of Lagos…in deed and in truth! (2)

Mr. Baruwa and especially the girl he allegedly raped deserve to be pitied because they might be, in different ways, victims of warped psychology and epistemology of sex from childhood which tend to obstruct cultivation of healthy sexual relationships between man and woman devoid of the mumbo-jumbo of religious superstition. Thus, there should be a paradigm-shift away from narrow-minded and obscurantist attitude towards sex to a more open, rational-scientific understanding of sexuality.
Now, although stringent measures by the University of Lagos can minimise sexual violence on campus, on a general level public institutions and non-governmental organisations that deal with social and health issues can incorporate in their programmes imaginative strategies for promoting civilised scientific attitude towards sex.
As I pointed out earlier, most sexual aberrations, including rape, are largely due to the dominant antiquated sexual morality propagated by psychologically thwarted moral prudes who uncritically regurgitate unscientific doctrines contained in scriptures and hide under the smokescreen of “fighting indecency” to unleash their sexual frustrations on others. So, unless the old sexual morality is replaced with rational sex education distilled from genuine knowledge of the emotional, physiological, intellectual, ethical and aesthetic dimensions of sexuality, rape and other forms of sexual perversions will continue to blight erotic relationships between human beings.
Another issue that has attracted undue negative publicity to the great University of Lagos is the tragic and unfortunate electrocution of Ms. Oluchi Anekwe, a brilliant 300-level student of Accounting. According to reports, on Tuesday September 8, 2015, Ms. Anekwe was walking into the New Halls Complex around 7 pm with her sister when an 11kv overhead transmission cable belonging to Eko Electricity Distribution Plc (EKEDP) fell on her. She was rushed to the Medical Centre of the University where, upon examination by the medical personnel on duty, she was found to have been brought in dead owing to the huge quantum of electric current that passed through her body, which caused massive irreparable damage to her vital organs.
It is unfortunate that several unfounded falsehoods have percolated around that tragedy. For example, it was alleged that Miss Anekwe’s life could have been saved if staff of the University’s Medical Centre handled her case professionally, and that she was not attended to immediately she was brought in because the staff on duty insisted on seeing her Student Identity Card first before commencing treatment – thereby wasting valuable time that should have been used to treat her.
A high-powered panel set up by the University to investigate the incident, comprising Professors M. Danesi (Neurology), F. Okafor (Electrical & Electronic Engineering) and A. Banjo (Anatomy & Molecular Pathology), concluded that Miss Anekwe was professionally handled upon arrival at the Medical Centre; that although she was brought in dead, the nurse and doctor tried their best to resuscitate her; that the request for her ID card afterwards was to prepare the necessary documents for transferring her body to the mortuary at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); and, finally, that Miss Anekwe’s sister who was mildly affected received treatment for shock at the Medical Centre. In keeping with global best practices, an autopsy was conducted on the deceased. The pathologist concluded that her death occurred within seconds to few minutes of contact with the lethal 11kv cable.
Findings of the panel set up by the federal government indicate that the faulty cable which killed Ms. Anekwe belongs to EKEDP. The panel directed the company to replace all its high-tension wires on campus with properly installed underground cables. Interestingly, the panel praised the electrical distribution network belonging to the University of Lagos, particularly because the cables were installed underground and the distribution panels and other equipment are modern. Therefore, the University should not be blamed for the tragic incident that occurred on September 8.
Now, in a letter dated August 26, 2015, the University requested EKEDP to ensure that all its cables are buried underground in line with safety standards. If EKEDP had treated the request expeditiously, the cable that electrocuted Ms. Anekwe would have been safely under the ground. Let us not forget, no public university in Nigeria surpasses University of Lagos in the supply of stable electricity, a clear indication that it is the University of First Choice and the nation’s pride indeed!

As a highly responsible and humane institution, a delegation from the University has visited the Anekwes to commiserate with them on the sudden death of their young, promising daughter. I wish them the fortitude to bear their irreparable loss with dignity and fortitude. Of course, no amount of tears or pecuniary compensation can bring her back to her family and loved ones. But the consolation is that Ms. Anekwe, from all indications, must have made a positive impact on those she came in contact with, including her classmates in the Accounting Department. For members of her family and those of us still alive, the best we can do when someone we know or love dies – or, indeed, at every occurrence of death – is to resolve to live a more authentic productive life devoid of self-deception, given the precariousness, preciousness and irreplaceability of the individual. It is by transcending our finitude through honest work, love and solidarity with fellow human beings that the inevitable sorrow necessarily connected with death can be ameliorated, not eliminated, because as long as there is life there will be death, and as long as there is death there will be sorrow also.

On the issue of students’ protest concerning bedbugs in their mattresses, I believe that the protesters have a point, although some mischievous students who were unprepared for examinations orchestrated the problem, hoping that examinations would be postponed longer than necessary. The University periodically fumigates hostels and staff quarters to kill insects and disease-bearing rodents. In addition, mattresses in the hostels are replaced occasionally to mitigate the accumulation of germs and insects. Unfortunately, for financial and logistic reasons, the frequency of fumigation is inadequate, given the geographical location of the University, which renders it mosquito-infested. But the greatest problem is the huge demand and supply inequality between the number of students seeking hostel accommodation on campus and the number of bed spaces available – the estimated ratio being about 4 to 1.
Management of the University, in concert with the alumni association, has the capacity to build new hostels and attract private developers to do the same based on terms congenial to all stakeholders. Unfortunately, existing regulations by the federal government do not allow that. Hence, unless the relevant laws are amended to allow federal universities more autonomy to manage their affairs, the problem of inadequate hostel accommodation for students would persist and probably worsen with time. There is another challenge: the character profile of students that populate our universities. A large percentage of students in institutions of higher today learning are not properly brought up by their parents and guardians.
They are lazy, uncouth and bereft of the finer habits necessary for maintaining clean and healthy surroundings. That said, the hostels in our universities need urgent rehabilitation and cleanup. Presently, the University of Lagos authorities have taken measures to improve sanitation by distributing beautiful waste disposal equipment everywhere on campus and by implementing a more efficient waste management system. Although there is room for improvement, other universities should borrow a leaf from what authorities of my upwardly mobile alma mater are doing to provide conducive environment for teaching, learning, research and recreation.

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