My tedious clearance venture at the University of Ibadan

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When people hear, the “University of Ibadan”, a number of things come to their mind in quick succession. Notable among them are “the premier university” and “the best university in Nigeria” tags. There is no doubt about the former, but is the latter true? Can all stakeholders beat their chests to this? It is usually disappointing when people find out that there is disparity between the public’s perception and true nature of something. Some of the things you are about to read are first hand experiences of a concerned alumnus of the institution who loves to say it as it is. Isn’t that what they say? If you want to make a person or situation better, just say things as they are without minding whose ox is gored.

I entered the university’s campus at exactly 9:30am on 8th November 2021 and proceeded to the university’s Postgraduate College to do my final clearance as it is expected of all graduating postgraduate students, little did I know that I would be going from pillar to post within the campus for three days before I could be finally cleared. I thought I would only be dealing with the annoying and complicated process but my frustration became heightened as some hostile workers were hellbent on adding insult to injury through careless words and attitudes.

After spending about two hours at a cybercafe on campus, I was able to generate invoices for N12,500, N7,661 and N3,161, each being payment for convocation, certificate, and hiring of academic gown fees respectively. I thereafter went to the university’s microfinance bank to make all the payments, each with varying commissions and charges on them. We were asked to take the convocation proof of payment to the finance department of the PG College for stamping and signature, while I took the gown and certificate proofs to a room called Cash Office directly under the VC’s nose. There, it took the officials two days of going back and forth to change the receipts.

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The second leg of my rigmarole took me to the Kenneth Dike Library where I also paid N1500 and spent 15 minutes to clear myself. Unfortunately, I and some others were asked to check back later to obtain our clearance receipts because they had exhausted the ones they had. UI is the first and the best indeed! Isn’t it? My third and final leg took me to my former house (department) on the campus for departmental clearance but the officer in charge was not on seat. I then went to the Alumni Centre to pay my last respect of N1000. On getting to the designated office, I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about at first but I got to know that people were pleading with the officials to allow them to either make cash payment or do online money transfer but they insisted that everyone must go to one of the designated banks outside the campus to pay N1000. We all did and brought the teller back to them to change to receipt. I went back to my department and met the official on seat this time. I paid the required N3000 clearance and became free like a bird. But the whole thing got me thinking about how faulty university administration has become and the rigidity of administrators to fully accept technology for smooth running of things.

It beats me that the University, which is usually referred to as the sane part of the society could deliberately create unnecessary gaps in office/public administration probably to put foods on some people’s tables or just to make life hard for the outgoing students most of whom now have families and are not based in Ibadan or even Oyo State. A friend asked me, that why couldn’t I do all the clearance via the internet in the comforts of my home or office. He went on to ask why the institution hadn’t advanced technologically. He told me about how his MSc certificate was couriered to him by his former institution in Brussels, Belgium after he was back in Nigeria.

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How do we expect to make headway as a nation if even the university system cannot solve little problems as above for itself? What have the numerous researches been carried out by scholars amounted to if they cannot be geared towards solving societal problems? If professors cannot come up with technological initiatives that can make something as simple as final clearance easy for Nigerian students, they lack the moral grounds to demand electronic voting from the Nigerian government. It is high time we all looked in the way of technology in order to be able to surmount the numerous challenges bedeviling our nation.

Did you hear that it was only half of the graduating students at the master’s level that were admitted into the convocation hall? The officials closed the door on the rest outside as there was almost a stampede at the Premier University Conference Centre on 16th November 2021! They said the hall couldn’t contain everyone.

Lest I forget, it was clearly stated in item no. 14 in the convocation memo of November 2nd, 2021 by the Deputy Registrar, Admission and General Administration, Postgraduate College, that, “Graduands are expected to collect their certificates at the Postgraduate College immediately after the ceremonies” and I must say that collection of certificates was the focus of my clearance journey. But in contrast to what was stated in the memo, our certificate was not ready until a month after the convocation.

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The certificate office codenamed by students and staffs alike as “the strong room,” and which is clearly written in black marker on the door is situated adjacent the vice chancellor’s tall abode and my experience there was nothing short of a strong room. I got there around 11am but didn’t leave until 4pm. At some point, when the sitting, standing and strolling was becoming unbearable, a gentleman and I had to question the officials issuing the certificate about the seemingly endless wait and the reply of one of them gave me a clearcut understanding of the backwardness of university administration in Nigeria and its corollary effect on the students. After all, the students are always at the receiving end of our faulty education sector. The official said over two thousand certificates have been jumbled together. So, they had to repeatedly ferret out applicants’ certificates amidst a massive pile. How do you explain such a colossal mix-up of certificates of thousands of students from different faculties, departments, and year of entrance?

What is wrong with UI? Is she probably afraid of technology? If she is truly holding the beam of light in the frontiers of knowledge in Nigeria, then she must live up to expectations in technological advancement. Isn’t it wise to accept the wind of positive change rather than be swept away by it?  

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