Deans of Student Affairs Chart New Course for Managing Crisis on Nigerian Campuses

With the growing tide of students’ restiveness, addiction to intake of harmful substances as well as crisis in Nigerian tertiary institutions, it has become more imperative that managers of students find solutions to these myriad of issues bedeviling institutions of higher learning.

These and many others formed the thrust at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Association of Deans of Student Affairs in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria (ADOSATI) which was held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

Expounding on the theme, “Sustainable Peace Building and Crisis Management on our Campuses” the keynote speaker and Hon. Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo state, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu identified some of the ills bedeviling  education system in the country to include poor funding, poor remuneration of teachers, poor management, teacher quality & delivery and great emphasis on paper qualifications.

He maintained that poor welfare on campus remains a major cause of conflict, identifying inadequate hostels and classroom accommodation leading to congestion, poor transportation, inadequate water supply, poor health facilities, epileptic power supply, increase in service charges or extortion, bureaucratic bottleneck, dictatorial style of administration by vice chancellors, among others as contributing to conflict in the tertiary institutions.

In his words, “There is too much emphasis on paper qualification in Nigeria, rather than knowledge, skill and competence. Most students with requisite knowledge, skill and competence but lack the ability to reproduce what the teacher taught often feel frustrated.” This anomaly according to him frustrate most students to the level of taking solace in bribing lecturers for marks, while the female among them resort to offering sexual gratification to lecturers, just to acquire certificates, thereby abandoning the skills and competence they earlier acquired.

The former Students Union Leader and former Dean of Student Affairs in UNIZIK averred that the burden of managing crisis in tertiary institutions rest squarely on the shoulders of deans of students affairs advocating that the deans must try to establish interpersonal relationship with students, such that they retain the confidence of students as that was the only way they could access information about cases of planned restiveness among students.

Prof. Ezeonu condemned the growing cases of drug addiction among students, calling on the association to dedicate part of its three-day conference to map out strategies of nipping the trend in the bud.

The keynote speaker further opined that improving funding, providing teaching and learning materials, ensuring proper consultation with stakeholders as well as encouraging private partnership in running institutions are panacea for mitigating conflicts.

Prof. Ezeonu urged management of tertiary institutions to avoid conflict suppression by encouraging responsible unionism, pointing out that management of institutions should be impartial, but firm.

Earlier in his address, the President of the association, Prof. Stanley Udedi stated that the situation of Nigerian students is characterized by an increased uncertainty and by a lack of trust in the future. Providing evidence to the assertion, Prof. Udedi noted that it is meaningful to take into account the steady rise of youth unemployment which adversely affects student’s performances. He posited that the conference is expected to proffer solutions to these myriad of challenges bedeviling the institutions.

The President stated that peace and crisis management is indispensable for the smooth running of academic programmes, effective interactions among stakeholders and quality scholarship. This he noted underpins the importance of the conference and the gathering of the Deans who directly superintend over the students in institutions of higher learning.