Good times might have come for the Lagos State University (LASU), with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s plan to build ultra-modern hostels for the 36-year-old institution.
The governor announced the decision on December 20 while unveiling the concessionaires for the N130 billion project. He promised that the hostels, expected to accommodate more than 8,000 students, would be ready in 18 months.
This news should gladden the hearts of all lovers of education in Nigeria. It is a game-changer for a tertiary institution that has been confronted with the hazards of operating in non-residential capacity since it was established by the Jakande administration in the Second Republic.
Successive administrations of the school have been helpless in helping students that have been exposed to the antics of Shylock landlords around the school who have taken undue advantage of the situation.
The students have equally been subjects of mindless attacks in abodes where there is poor security.
It has also promoted cult attacks among students whose parents live far away, and the school to which they were entrusted is in no position to offer adequate protection.
To both, housing one-third of the student population will be a great relief. As the vice-chancellor, Professor Lanre Fagbohun, said at the ceremony, the move will” change the course of tertiary education”.
And this effect would not just be felt in Lagos State, but the entire country.
We commend the governor for the initiative. As his special adviser on education who superintended the bid by concessionaires and the subsequent negotiations noted, it will be a legacy project.
The government deserves commendation for this and other major initiatives, including work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway and the plan to speedily complete others initiated by his predecessor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode.
Lagos is hailed as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ and this must not stop under this dispensation.
The government should realise that how it handles its relationship with the concessionaires will determine how others react to similar initiatives by the state government, and beyond.
Other tertiary institutions in the state are waiting: it is a worthy objective that should spread to the state polytechnic and colleges of education.
Beyond hostel accommodation, which should boost academic excellence in LASU, the provision of modern library and information technology facilities in the school will radically improve the school’s rating.
More attention should be paid to the admission, staff recruitment, appointments and promotion processes in the university.
With the hostel facility, LASU could yet emerge a first-class university in Nigeria, irrespective of being state-owned. Nigeria has waited so long for this initiative, and it must be seen through.
There is a long way to go to hoisting Nigeria’s flag in the pavilion of global excellent institutions. The Sanwo-Olu dream should be supported by all stakeholders, including the Federal Government, the National Universities Commission and wealthy Lagosians. This is a task that must be done.