Florence Obi: Upgrading Infrastructure In UNICAL For Academic Comfort BY DOMINIC KIDZU


Always pragmatic in her style of administration, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi has in a little over one year in office repositioned a large number of office and studying facilities to ease the process of learning and avail more comfort for students of the institution. On assuming office as Vice Chancellor, she met a lot of infrastructure and facilities in an appalling state with dilapidated hostels, decrepit lecture halls and uncompleted examination pavilions.

The situation was further worsened with the devastating invasion of the institution by angry youths during the END SARS protests leading to a complete stripping of hostel facilities including conduit pipes, wires, toilet shanks, basins and pipes, windows, doors, and roofs. The hostels were more like ruins in the aftermath of a fierce war and students could not be sent to live there with all good conscience. She commissioned the renovation and expansion of many of these facilities even with a zero bank balance at her inception and handed down stiff timeliness to the contractors. She has also included external works, furnishing and landscaping as separate contracts tied to the original projects.

Arc James Ikpi, who is the Director of Physical Planning said that the ongoing projects are mostly lecture theatres and pavilions. “Pavilions 1, 2 and 3 are existing structures that had neither offices nor conveniences. Large halls that we are remodelling to increase sitting capacity. They were just halls which we have converted to storey buildings in order to increase the sitting capacity and enhance student comfort. The projects were started in October last year but are almost complete. These projects are under the TETFUND budget for 2018/2019/2020 but they were not done until we came and met them.”

“The Vice Chancellor has told us that she doesn’t want abandoned projects that will attract variation. We started in October and many of them are already completed while the other ones are nearing completion. The team that came from Tetfund was very impressed with our work. Commissioning of the projects will be coming up soon” Engineer Ikpi said.

I found one of the major contractors, Engineer Dominic Eguda at one of the sites and he told me that he was under immense pressure from the Vice Chancellor to deliver the job. “I have worked in about 15 institutions but I have never experienced this kind of commitment from any chief executive. We originally wrote that we will complete the projects in 36 weeks but the VC insisted that we compress the duration to 24 weeks, making us to work day and night. She comes to inspect the site twice a day. The management also; from physical planning, bursary etc, have also been very supportive”.

The pavilions now have a sitting capacity of 4,500 students for lectures and examinations, up from 1,200. And the theatres are now fitted with suitable offices, conveniences and other ancillary facilities.

The Director disclosed that “we are doing all this even though we inherited sanctions caused by infractions of up to N1.3 billion from the previous administration due to misapplication of funds
which we have been refunding. As a result of this, funds for 2021 and 2022 Tetfund intervention are not available to us. We are repaying gradually. We are trying to wipe out the impression that we are the institution with the highest abandoned projects so that we can return to good standing with TETFUND”.

When I spoke to Engr Paul Takon, who is the Deputy director of works (Electrical), he was excited about the Solar project he was supervising which is a gracious intervention from the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. “We are lighting up the institution including security search lights especially after the criminality that has been going on. Deans of faculties are also being encouraged to also light up their faculties.”

“Public Power supply has always been the limitation, but we are already in the second phase of Energising Education Programme which is another intervention from the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, to give universities 247 Power supply. What is proposed for the University of Calabar is a 7 megawatts solar plant which will adequately cater for the power supply needs of the university. Contractors are already bidding for the actual construction of the plant. In the next 2 – 3 months work will start effectively”.

He said that in the meantime, the Vice Chancellor has just bought another new 1500kva generator to add to the two existing ones. The
VC has also made sure that most faculties and departments have strong generators that can carry airconsitioners and other electricity needs, so that the absence of public power does not disrupt academic activities.


Development Consultant, Writer, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher @theluminenews.com, Public/ Motivational Speaker, Public Affairs Analyst/Commentator, Social Mobilizer of high repute.

View all posts by Elijah →

Leave a Reply