“As I gained admission into the school, I knew that I would have to do something worthwhile that can get me money as my parents are not financially buoyant to support all my needs academically,” said Esther Bako.
Bako is a 100-level Psychology student at the Plateau State University (PLASU) Bokkos.
She also decided that if she must work, it would be a job with dignity even if it is a ‘labourer’ kind of job, which is usually men-dominated.
Bako is one of the students who engage in the various construction activities going on in their campus in order to make some earnings and support their academic pursuit.
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She said there is dignity in every good labour no matter how menial and rough it appears.
She called on her fellow female students who were not doing anything worthwhile or engaged in any beneficial venture during the holidays to join them on the site and make something for themselves.
That, according to her, “is better than following men for money, engaging in prostitution or related vices or be doing ‘guy’ up and down while they don’t have any tangible thing to show for it.
Bako and other students, after their semester vacation, decided to stay back and work on the facilities being constructed to support their families who are not buoyant enough to support all their academic and other needs. In effect, working on the site will enable them to fend for themselves without entirely depending on others for their upkeep.
According to the students, they are paid on a daily basis. They are paid between N2,000 and N4,500 at the end of work each day.
Daily Trust gathered that the students are from different departments and levels, and also made up of both males and females. They could be seen at the construction sites working energetically and enthusiastically.
The facilities being constructed are sponsored by the TETFund under the grant of over N1.2 billion given to the university as Normal and Zonal Interventions for 2023 allocation. The facilities include 1000 capacity hostel accommodation, ICT centre, new faculties and water treatment centre among others.
For Wilfred Emmanuel, a 300-level student of Economics, he also chose to take up work at the school’s construction site to enable him to raise some money to support himself as well as his family as he recently lost his father and they are currently going through hardship.
He said his mother is in support of him working at the site, and that he would support her in any way he could with any menial job he engages in so that the family burden she is currently bearing does not weigh her down.
Another 400-level student in Mathematics, Barom Caleb, said with the general hardship in the country today, many families are going through a lot, and that it is better if they can use their spare or free time to do such work and raise money for themselves without becoming a liability on anyone or the family.
He said the good thing is that they are still young and energetic and capable of doing such work rather than being lazy or staying idle at home while awaiting school to resume.
On the payment, Caleb said they are paid N2,000 on a daily basis and that applies to their own category which is referred to as labourers (unskilled workers), while the skilled workers get up to N4,000 to N4,500 daily.
He explained that most of the students fall under the unskilled workers, but some other students who have already learnt and understand the work fall under the skilled category.
However, one of the students, Panmun Dayah, who is a 400-level student of Economics said he is paid N2,500 daily.
He said he is working on the site where they are building the mini firm that would be producing table water.
Another female student, Simi Simeon, of Bio-Chemistry Department, said she is doing the work to assist herself and meet some of her needs.
She said as students, they have lots of needs, but they cannot burden their sponsors with all of their needs as times are hard, adding that once in a while she engages in such work wherever she gets it.
Another 400-level student of the Political Science Department who is working on the hostel construction site, Felix Iliadu, said he pays his school fees and fends for himself in school and therefore has to do anything he can to raise money.
According to him, several other students in the school are paying their fees themselves, and having found themselves in such a condition, they cannot afford to engage in any other extra activity or time other than what can get them money to keep meeting up with their academic demands.
He said for the students who are feeling too big to do such work, all he could say is maybe they have good means or source of income to meet their academic needs, but for those who have none, they are not ashamed to engage in the work, especially with the nature of tertiary institutions where many students show off and always try to portray themselves as people with high modern lifestyles.
Also, Jacob Mulak, who graduated just before the holidays, has stayed back to engage in the job.
He said the reason he chose to work at the site is not only to make money but to acquire a skill that he can also use after school and make some money for himself rather than depending on people, for government or white collar jobs which are no longer readily available.
Meanwhile, the students advised their colleagues who are not doing anything worthwhile during the holidays to join them rather than engaging in negative acts to get money.
Reacting, the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Bernard Malau Matur, said though many of the students are working on the site to earn money, others are doing it as part of their entrepreneurship class, especially those in the building department.
He however said that regardless of the category, any student involved at the construction site still gets stipends at the end of the day.
The vice chancellor also disclosed that the institution will soon commence new programmes as well as postgraduate programmes.
According to him, the additional programmes are 25 and will add to the existing 17 programmes, and the school now has four additional faculties.
“Key areas of fast-tracking the development of the university is the introduction of very important programmes that would serve the needs of the society.
“The National Universities Commission (NUC) has approved that we commence academic programmes in four faculties, i.e. Law, Agriculture, Environmental Sciences and Health Sciences, as well as the School of Postgraduate Studies,” he said.
He said: “A total of 25 new programmes are now added to the 17 existing programmes making a total of 42 academic programmes in the university. In addition, we have concluded plans for the take-off of our School of Business Studies in grand style with over two dozen programmes at the diploma, postgraduate, master and doctorate degree levels.”
He noted that in a quest to keep soaring higher, they have taken a critical look at both water and energy needs, as a result, solar-powered water facilities are being installed while efforts are ongoing for the provision of a solar farm for the university to forestall the challenges of frequent power outages as they navigate towards ICT-driven operations and paperless academic and administrative operations.
“The management has not been unmindful of the dearth of resources at its disposal for the day-to-day running of its activities. In this regard, the university has entered into partnerships with various organizations to boost its internally generated revenue (IGR).
“There are indeed some challenges but they are certainly not insurmountable as we have come fully prepared to take the bull by the horns,” he added.