On 21 September 1961, the then Minister of Education and University of Ibadan alumnus, Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu, was on the university campus to make a historic official opening of a new hall of residence — the third male hall of residence and the fifth of all University of Ibadan halls. As the name implies, the then federal government built Independence Hall to mark Nigeria’s independence from British rule.
The circumstances of the construction and official opening of this hall of residence have remained an integral part of the Indy Hall culture and traditions. The fun-fare, free-spiritedness, and sadly short-lived true unity of a people who recently gained freedom from a suppressive colonial rule, is likewise the free-spiritedness, fun-fare, and unity that is preached to all occupants of the Hall to date.
Come this September, the Hall will mark its 60th year of existence. As is expected, much of the focus have been on celebrations. Nonetheless, Katangites must think beyond celebrations. Milestones serve different purposes. Of a truth, celebrations and appreciation are an undeniable part of those purposes. However, one other essential purpose of milestones is retrospection. Milestones provide us the opportunity to think back — to how things were, and how things are at present. This allows the proverbial backward moves of a ram, in order to allow for a more coordinated attack.
There is no denying that Indy Hall is faced with a lot of problems. It is no curse to say that things are worse than they used to be. There is the case of the deplorable state of the hall’s infrastructure. The gradual loss of the bubble that makes ours a living hall. Shall we forget to mention the rifts that have rocked the hall in the past few years? We could have been more united than we were. We should be more united than we are.
Many Katangites — past and present — have lamented some of the problems facing the hall. Some of the articles for this week lament some of these problems. A visitor to the University of Ibadan would notice a stark difference when they get to the end of the El-Kanemi Road — facing them would be structures of peeling paint and creaking gates. The diamond jubilee is an important milestone to everyone. It is a period to celebrate lofty heights reached and shiny medals won. Sadly, what is shiny about our hall? What should be shiny about our hall? Is there a way to move from where we are to where we want to be? Yes, there is. However, there can be no move if we do not even know where we are. So…
The Wailing Walls of Indy
In 2018, God answered the prayers of Katangites staying on Indy Hall Block B’s first floor. The Hall Management, after a series of articles and pleas, decided to replace the quarter of the floor’s railing that had gone amiss. Things did not stop here. In succession, some men arrived, with a truckload of plumbing materials. The hall management seemed to have eventually pitied the pitiable toilets. And so it was that Indy Hall was the first to start major renovation on the University of Ibadan campus. People whispered then that the renovations were in line with the university’s 70th anniversary.
Three years later, the hall of residence that started the renovations has not experienced full renovations. Indy Hall is still struggling to finish the plumbing works that started in 2018. Indy Hall’s walls are wailing; of peeling paint and algae plasters. The 2019 administration took it upon itself to renovate the Junior Common Room. The newly constituted alumni body is currently renovating the reading rooms. The alumni body also has plans to renovate the main gate.
The university management disbursed funds for the renovation of halls of residence towards the 70th anniversary celebrations. Why is Indy in this deplorable state? As we celebrate and gallivant, let us be retrospective and collectively call for change. Indy Hall needs to undergo full renovations, like other halls. No one is saying the alumni body should not renovate. No one is saying student administrations should not have capital projects. However, those should serve as addenda to the major renovations by the hall management. Ours is a hall that marks Nigeria’s independence, may we not inherit the peculiar and malignant nature of Nigeria’s problems.
The Dearth of Solid And All-Round Leadership
Another problem that the halls has been faced with is solid leadership. No matter how seemingly successful the administration is, there are the outliers — whose mission is to drag the name of the hall in the mud. In three years, about five members of the executive council have either been suspended or impeached. That is the highest toll in any hall of residence on campus. Leadership is not a given. It is not a place of luxury. It is a place of service. A place where you go in the grit and get your hands greasy with good work. Dirty here does not mean you should engage in shady deals.
Leadership in Indy Hall is never for the title alone. Katangites are fed up of leaders who want leadership in a bid to decorate their CVs, have a boxroom to themselves, or whatever entitlements come with it. More so, Indy Hall leadership positions are not your testing ground. True, you will unavoidably learn on the job. Nonetheless, you must have had some experience before getting the job. Enough of floor representatives who make themselves the subject of ridicule. Enough of executive council members who are lax. An intending floor representative should know that they need to attend sittings and get familiar with the proceedings of the house. How many of them do you see at the sittings? There is little wonder then that the first few months serve as the trial and error stage.
An intending executive council member should learn to be of service to the hall before they even contest. This way, they get to know the demands of the office before contesting. Gone are the days when Katangites judged not only by the plans you have on paper, but also by what you have done. We need to revive these times, and the mandate lies with us all; with you, dear Katangite. Indy Hall is an old woman. She shouldn’t be one with regrets.
Unity, Like Nigeria’s
How united is Indy Hall? It is a popular saying among us that we are all working towards the hall’s progress. However, are we truly doing that? Executive council members, members of the House, journalists, public speakers, members of the Supporters’ Club, we all think Indy Hall before our personal interests. Indy Hall is bigger than us all. It gave us our identity.
You did not create this new identity for yourself. It was bestowed on you when you joined the hall. Remember this in your dealings; when your ego gets the better of you; when you are about to wield power. Never forget it when you want to make important decisions. A divided house cannot make a united font. If Indy Hall wishes to remain relevant on the University of Ibadan campus, then, it must give serious thoughts to its unity.
In some days’ time, the Indy Hall Alumni Association will hold its dinner in celebration of this 60th. On 21st September, we will officially mark the 60th. It is not mandatory to have a big event — events are soon forgotten But whatever change we fight for now will define the future of the home we all so love.
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