I was admitted to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ilorin in the year 2005. I spent my time living on the schools hostel accommodation. Over this period, I lived with different roommates – each Session got me new roommates.
I had a preference for staying on the campus because it afforded me some “comforts”. Like it obtains in so many Nigerian institutions, securing hostel accommodation was never an easy task, given that the available hostel space cannot accommodate 1/3 of the students who needs one.
I gained admission through the 2004 remedial programme, at that time the boys comprised of 7 blocks of hostels, blocks A – G, each block contained 30 Rooms. The boys were striped of 2 blocks (F-G) in 2005, no thanks to the landlord syndrome where an undergraduate claims ownership of a bed space he did not pay for.
Seven blocks of accommodation turned five; this heightened the competition in securing an accommodation in the boy’s hostel. The University principal officers (Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Bursar and Librarian) have bed spaces reservation. These reserved spaces are allocated to undergraduates who are highly “connected”.
The reserved rooms were majorly rooms that housed 4 and 6 occupants as against the general room of 8. The emergence of Prof Ishaq Oloyede as Vice Chancelor in 2010 saw the reserved accommodation allocated to departmental Scholars (Individuals who held the highest CGPA in their departments).
The hostel accommodation fee rose from 10,000 Naira to 23,500 in my final year – 2010. This was as a result of the hostel privatization and makeshift renovation by the new hostel managers. The sudden hike in accommodation fee did not change the competitiveness that characterized securing an accommodation.
The new hostel managers introduced a new method of allocating bedspaces. The old practice was to make the accommodation payment at the bank, then join a long queue of applicants at the student affairs office for issuance of room number. The new administrators developed an online portal which allowed for more transparency in room allocation; rooms were allocated on a first come, first serve basis.
I was allocated room D22 in my final year. The boy’s hostel is arranged in a pentagonal form with walkways linking the different hostels. There was only one entrance to the hostel. This was not the case during my remedial days – a lot had changed, including the hostel numbering. During my 100 level days, there were about 5 entry’s leading to the boys’ hostel.
The diagram below shows the once existing pathways and hostel numbering.
The entrance labeled 1 served as short cut to the borehole beside the University’s Conference Center. Entrance 2 led to the taxi Car park (Now senate building parking lot area) and short cut to Saint Thomas Acquinas Chaplaincy (STAC) and UCU Chapel. The 3rd entrance was a fast route to a burger joint – burger in Unilorin refers to akara balls sandwiched in bread, it also served as route to the mosque area and “attack” joints.
These quick routes served as access routes to male and female undergraduates. The usage of these routes by female undergraduates birthed the once popular “ARO” culture. ARO is simply jest making, a common word for it is “yabbing”. It was a way of unwinding, relaxation by the male undergraduates – their victims were mostly female undergraduates who visited the boys hostel or used the access routes.
ARO existed in 3 forms, the first is male to male yabbing (tongue lashing). The other, male to female yabbing, the last is mixed – a situation were male undergraduates take-on a female walking in the company of a male undergraduate.
The ARO lords feasted on passerbys, they picked on ladies walking style – catwalk, boob size, hips etc the fun created by ARO is at its peak whenever a female walked in the company of a male. When this happens; the individuals involved are assumed to be lovers. Jest like, “You better concentrate on your studies and rescue your ailing CGPA”, “on go face Tanke o…” were common.
The dearth of ARO began when a male undergraduate played an expensive practical jest. A female undergraduate was walking through entrance 2 – see illustration above, a quick link between the boys hostels and the female Lagos hostel. A male undergraduate walked behind her at close range and mimicked her catwalk. Rumour had it that he accidentally touched her buttocks; the female undergraduate in question was irritated by this development and landed a hot slap on the guys cheeks. He returned the slap immediately. This incidence was reported to the school authority and was a principal reason that accounted for the sealing up of the routes.
I guess it also led to the gradual ban of female undergraduates visiting the boy’s hostels.
I made for room D22 as soon as I was allocated the space, this is was necessary so I could choose a good bed space – once allocated to a room, choosing a bed space was the next thing to do.
D22 was a room of 8, with 4 double bunks. I inspected the louvers, wardrobes and finally settled for my choice space. I inscribed my name on a hard paper and stuck in on the lower bunk – This space belongs to Olorunfemi Babatunde. I was the first person to be allocated a space in the room, this was evident in the fact that no bed space had been occupied.
As the week passed by, all the bed spaces were occupied. I began to meet men of uncommon virtues and values. Room D22 was a house of uncommons for many reasons; it housed 3 businesses. Jasmine telecommunications, a mini-cybercafe and a computer business center. The full details of the ownership and modus of operation of these companies would be provided in the next episode of this blog opera.
Meanwhile here is an earlier article about my roommates with the title, 2010 VALENTINE DAY REMINISCENCE – meet some of the characters here.
Note: names of characters not realnames.
To be continued……………………
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