The Deteriorating State of Mike Okiro Centre and AFAS Executives’ Poor Facility Management 

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Praise Olorunfemi

One of the things that contribute to the impeccable standard of an organisation, an institution, or an association, is the status of the advancement, sophistication, development, and maintenance of their facilities. In fact, at some point, when standards are being referred to, it literally might be a reference to the extent of the functional facilities being possessed. Now, when it comes to matters concerning academics or matters that find themselves within the courses of academic endeavours, it becomes imperative that the quality of productivity is directly proportional to the status of facilities and infrastructures. Hence, the importance of an optimum facility in an academic environment cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore, it is in this light that this piece will examine the attitude of the AFAS executives towards facilities and infrastructures in the Faculty. 

From observations, a present conclusion can be arrived at, which is, when it comes to the facilities under the purview of the association, these facilities seem to be doomed for abuse and total abandonment. Past and current occurrences have revealed that AFAS executives are incapable of maintaining what has either been handed over to them or acquired with AFASites’ funds. The Mike Okiro Centre is one of such properties. 

The Mike Okiro Centre was launched/inaugurated in 2010, sponsored by Mike Okiro Mbama, a Nigerian policeman, who, at the age of 60, the mandatory retirement age for the Nigerian Police Force, retired meritoriously on July 24, 2009. Before retiring, he had served as the Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force from 2009. 

Now, having been acquainted with this foreknowledge as a background, the motive of the Mike Okiro Centre established here at the University of Ibadan is not far-fetched. Okiro holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Ibadan. As a man of industrious and impactful initiatives who engendered the tangible developments that took place in the Nigerian Police Force and the ripple positive impact on the country as a whole, he extended one of such gestures to his Alma mater and faculty. Hence, the Mike Okiro Centre was launched to improve the academic endeavours of AFASites on campus, and to an extent, other students from other faculties on campus. 

The initiative was to enhance the technological exposure of students during their course of learning, and at the same time provide services to students at a subsidised rate. That is, services/business enterprises such as Internet Cafe services, photocopying, printings, project works, etc, are to be run in the Mike Okiro centre at cheaper/friendly rates. Another motive for the set-up of the centre was to make technological gadgets like personal computers available to students who do not own theirs and need them; they could visit the centre and make use of the computers that have been made available there. 

Mike Okiro centre came under the care of AFAS last session during the tenure of the former Sub-Dean, Dr Blavo. Recently, when AFAS Press reached out to him, he spoke about how reports had reached him on how Mike Okiro has become a sleeping spot for unidentified people to pass the night. 

Discussing his concerns further, he narrated how the present authority over Mike Okiro Centre came to be. When he assumed office, the former Sub-Dean, Dr. Blavo, noticed that the Centre was under lock and key, which did not sit well with him, as facilities are meant to be put to use when they exist. He took steps to look into the matters surrounding the centre and discovered that it had been locked for about five years before he assumed office. It was said that one Mr. Femi, a son of Baba Klass, one of the operators in Lord Tedder Hall cafeteria, was the last to use the place, and was the one who locked the place up. On his further enquiries, it was mentioned to the Sub-Dean, that this Mr. Femi had left the country in pursuit of furthering his education, and hitherto locked the place as he had paid to use the place. When he (Sub-Dean) demanded from past AFAS president, Emmanuel Akinyoola (Akoem) the records showing evidence of payment received from this Mr. Femi, no record of such was made available. In the absence of that, the Sub-Dean proceeded to secure the centre and handed it over to AFAS on the condition that the place would be put to “active and productive use.”

Looking at the current state of the Mike Okiro Centre, one would see it has dropped into a state of degeneration. Many a time, the arrangement of the chairs when one takes a peep at the centre through its windows confirms the reports received by AFAS Press that the centre is being converted into a sleeping spot, especially at night. Interestingly, other sleeping materials have been found there, such as fabrics used as bedspreads/duvets, and a mattress. The centre used to be filled with desktop computers and flat-screen monitors, but today, they have become carcasses of CPUs stacked into a store-like partition there in the centre, either wasting away or wasted already. 

Although, in 2015 the centre was renovated, none of the services it was reformed to serve exist. The Mike Okiro Centre is a facility that could have come in very handy in this very dire general situation in the faculty, as a ripple effect from what is going on generally in the country, in terms of power supply, hike in service charge, internet downtime for virtual classes etc. AFASites have been through a lot and are still going through a lot when it comes to meeting up with academic tasks, in terms of continuous assessment assignments, project handling, group works/projects, etc, and the centre could have served as a solution that would lessen the severity of the faculty students’ academic situation. 

Another potential of the Mike Okiro Centre is the fact that funds could be generated from the centre to run the Association, instead of twisting back the hands of students to force the faculty dues out of them, with desperate measures, of which it is reasonable for any sane person to question a payment he/she is making. For instance, one of the highest privileges of being a financial member of AFAS is the right to vote, however, close to a hundred students who are financial members have complained bitterly about how they have been disenfranchised, in the space of two years now. As if being disenfranchised is not enough, packages have either been delayed or completely denied eventually, in some cases. All these and more shortcomings are no-brainers as to factors culminating in the reluctance of AFASites to be enthusiastic about becoming financial members of the Association. Harnessing the potential of the Mike Okiro Centre would have been a source of income for the association, playing a huge role in preventing “desperate times calls for desperate measures” resolutions in the faculty regarding the insufficiency of funds in the association, a topic that has consequently generated into the suspension of an honourable in the FLC. 

On reaching out to the incumbent Sub-Dean, Dr Odoje, it was discovered that he was unaware of the incidents surrounding the Mike Okiro Centre. He further stated that on assuming office, he had not been privy to matters concerning the centre. However, he is not oblivious to the anomalies that have plagued the centre, and he promised that he will look into it. 

This problem of nonchalance toward facilities in the faculty, which eventually leads to the decay or destruction of these facilities, only corroborates the insensitivities towards the needs of AFASites, by the Association’s executives. As typically seen, these AFAS executives seem to have also shown an immense ineptitude in mitigating challenges towering in the face of AFASites, and year in, year out, AFASites seem to be plagued with one avoidable or solvable problem or the other. So far, they have not evidently fulfilled the conditions laid down by the Sun-Dean before the handing over of the centre to AFAS which is to take the initiative of sourcing sponsors to equip the centre and keep it running and productively active. 

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