Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.
As someone who spent about four years on a Nigerian campus, I know that it’s almost impossible to avoid stressful situations in a university. It’s almost like the institutions are set up to frustrate you over the bare minimum. For Aluta and Chill this week, I spoke to a couple of University of Nigeria students and got them to talk about a stressful experience they’ve had to deal with at the university.
Emmanuel — Being the class rep almost cost him a year
I had just gotten into the university and was so hyped about everything I was about to experience. When classes started, we held elections for the post of the class representative and I joined the race. I won, but it felt good only for a short time. The thing about being the class rep is that you become so busy helping others out that you forget that you have your problems too. I was caught up with helping other students out with lecturers, class schedules and those sorts of things that I didn’t put much thought into the fact that I hadn’t completed my first-year registration process. And if you miss the registration for the year, the chances that you will be kicked out of the school is pretty high.
When I eventually got started on it, it was almost too late. The funny thing about the whole thing was that only a few people were willing to help me out. I expected more from people because I was the rep, but sadly it didn’t work like that. By the time everything was ready, it was the last day of registration and the queues were so long. I had to beg the official in charge of registering students in my department to ensure that I got it done. It’s not an experience I like to remember. I got a lesson out of the whole mess though — I realised that I couldn’t kill myself. The first thing I did was leave my role as the class rep and I haven’t looked back since.
Zorle — Made a series of trips between two towns to get a list
I switched from the Department of Combined Arts to Law in my second year. I needed to transfer my school files from the campus in Nsukka to Enugu, where the law faculty is. The faculty officer was supposed to get a list of the transfer students, but for some reason, nobody sent it. And I didn’t know about this until I moved to Enugu. She wasn’t helpful and literally chased me out of her office. This kicked off back and forth trips between Nsukka and Enugu.
It was only a list and you would think that it shouldn’t be hard to get, but no, these people had other plans for me. At the Nsukka campus, the woman in charge kept me in her office for over 3 hours. When she finally remembered that I was there to get something, she told me that she had closed for the day. I had no choice but to travel back to Enugu.
For the next three days, I travelled between Enugu and Nsukka to make sure that I got this list. On the third day, I had grown so weary of the whole thing, and when it looked like she was going to leave me unattended to again, I braced myself, approached her and told her that I couldn’t go another day without getting what I needed. My little outburst worked, but it was late evening before I was done for that day.
I had nowhere to stay in Nsukka, so it was important to return to Enugu that night. I was stranded for hours before I got a vehicle to Enugu and I had to fight tooth and nail before I got myself a seat. I realised how broke the trips had made me. And how exhausted I was. By the way, I didn’t get the list on that day too — she asked me to come back. I broke down inside the bus and cried. That period was a really dark time for me. It wasn’t fun at all.
Jubilee — An exam held hours later than originally planned
I was in my third year and it was time for exams. So, this exam was supposed to be held in the school library. But as it turned out, some students were using the library for their examination already. We were moved to another venue, and that was supposed to be all. The exam was scheduled for 8 am, but with the whole venue problem, we didn’t settle in until 12 noon. One hour passed and we hadn’t started the exam and nobody told us what was happening. Word started to fly around that there were issues with the server. Another hour passed and nothing happened.
Around 6 pm, they asked us to go back to the library where the exam was originally scheduled to hold. It was raining but we had no choice but to defy the rain and make it to the venue. Everyone was tired and hungry. Anyone who left would probably have to sit for the exam the following year. Anyway, we were finally done around 8 pm. However, the day wasn’t over for me. I was living outside the campus, so I needed a school shuttle to get me home. Unfortunately, it had rained earlier and these vehicles tended to disappear whenever it rained. It was a big struggle to get myself home. It was just a really stressful day and everything happened because the system wanted to mess with us.
Melissa — Fell ill during exams
This happened in my fourth year. There was an ASUU strike earlier in the year and when it was finally called off, the school ran on an accelerated calendar. We had to learn the same volume of work but in a shorter period of time. On the day exams started, I fell super ill. I was put on drugs and injections for a couple of days. But the thing is that I needed to get a lot of sleep to give the medication a chance to work, but it was exam season and I couldn’t afford to do that. I had to push the pain to the background and study for my exams. I was pulling all-nighters and studying most of the day.
I actually thought that I was going to die. The trickiest part was making sure I didn’t blank out inside the exam hall. The fatigue had caught up with me and I was always racing against time to make sure I wouldn’t have to write any of the exams the following year. It would have been easier if I was closer to home. My friends in school couldn’t help because they were studying for their exams too. I was alone, sick, and in pain.
Victor — The aftermath of a protest made his life hell
I was in my first year and the second-semester exams were approaching. I don’t know what happened there but the power company stopped supplying the school. The school’s back-up generator was also faulty, so we had power for only 3 hours every day. This went for three weeks and it didn’t look like there was an end in sight. The Student Union decided to protest, but things got out of hand. The protest escalated into a full-blown riot. The school management shut down the school for a month. When they called us back, they insisted that we had to pay a reparation fee to the bank.
This was where it started to become unbearable for me. I made trips to the bank for an entire week, but I couldn’t pay this fee because the portal was too congested. That was only the beginning. The struggle to get a court affidavit, confirming that I wasn’t a cultist was the next thing I had to deal with. Then, clearance from the school security department. Finally, I had everything I needed to submit to the student affairs department, but the problem was that there were thousands of students there, fighting to submit their documents to. It was quite ‘the violent taketh it by force’ situation. And here is the thing — I wasn’t even in school when the protests broke out, I was in Ebonyi State.
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Can’t get enough Aluta and Chill? Check back every Thursday at noon for a new episode. Find other stories in the series here.