Africa's Education News Source

Nigeria election: UNILAG students vacate campus, lament cash scarcity

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox.

Rachel, a 500 level student of engineering at the University of Lagos, had been waiting at Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank), UNILAG Branch, for over two hours when Edugist’s reporter approached her.

She was one, out of more than 50 others in the waiting line, hoping to access some cash from the bank’s ATM. “We have been ordered to leave the hostels, and I have not a single idea of how I will reach my house in Abeokuta,” she said.

As Nigeria’s 2023 general elections draw closer, students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) are vacating the hostels on the university campus in Akoka amid the growing security concerns.

Following the ministerial directive issued through the National Universities Commission (NUC), ordering closure of universities and inter university centres from February 22 and March 14, students have encountered bitter experiences, most especially, sourcing for means of transportation as cash crunch deepens in the country.

The general elections will be held in Nigeria on Saturday, February 25, 2023 to elect the president, vice president and members of the senate and house of representatives, while the gubernatorial elections will be held for state governors on Saturday, March 11.

The closure, according to the National Universities Commission (NUC), is in view of the foregoing and concerns about the security of staff, students and properties of the respective institutions.

The ongoing cash crunch in the country has been a worry for students of UNILAG, especially for those living outside Lagos state. Edugist spoke with some students who have had various challenges to ensure a seamless commute from campus to their homes.

Speaking with Edugist, a student who simply identified as Amoo, said he has been gravely affected by the cash scarcity. “As a student, I have close to half a million in my account and I don’t even have two thousand naira to take me home. How do I get home when I don’t even have cash? And the university management and hostel admins have ordered that we leave the hostels.”

Amoo explained how vehicle-for-hire services like Bolt and Uber, among others, have taken advantage of the surge of Lagos students booking a ride to inflate the transport fares. He said, “Uber wan finish me with ridiculous pricing. Bolt, too. inDrive is still fair but on a normal level, their fares are still on the high side.”

Recall that the initial deadline of January 31st, 2023 was extended to February 10th, 2023 until the old notes of N200, N500 and N1000 denominations ceased to be a legal tender. Then, the Central Bank of Nigeria settled for a compromise because the initial plan was not feasible and re-circulated the old N200 notes as legal tender until April 10, 2023.

Tope*, a student undergoing the mandatory industrial training experience (SIWES) at a commercial bank around Akoka campus, explained to Edugist, about the corrupt practices going on inside of the banks. She said oftentimes, workers on the inside access cash and get it to the outside seamlessly. “They [bank workers] meet the cashiers to receive funds when they need it, I can’t say more than that,” she said.

IMG 20230222 144751 596
Document ordering SIWES students to vacate duty posts. [Courtesy: Tope]
Tope said the NUC directive means students undergoing SIWES will not report for duties between the stipulated time period; she provided a document to this effect, affirming her claim.

Edugist previously reported how various points of sales (POS) services stationed in different universities exploit students by placing outrageous rates on cash withdrawal. This has led some students to suggest that many of these point of sale (POS) operators are owned by bank workers to sabotage the banking and financial institutions in the country. “I don’t trust any of them, the bank managers, workers, everybody on the inside. They most definitely have a hand in the whole [cash] scarcity situation,” a student, who pleaded anonymity, told Edugist.

On Akoka campus, students are heavily bothered about how to safely arrive at their homes. They are roaming in large masses, loitering around bank arenas with hope to withdraw some cash.

Some students can be seen loitering with their luggage at the offices of major university’s administrators, like the office of the institution’s dean, Students Affairs Division (DSA) hoping there may be an overturn of the directive to vacate the hostels.


IMG 20230222 142328 829
Students loiter by the DSA’s office. [Abdulafeez Olaitan/Edugist]
Uche*, a university fresher from the faculty of education, said: “I stay in Ibadan, and I am so clueless on how to go home. I have been considering different options, like train, but most of them only accept cash payment for ticketing. I am so stressed and tired. I have been wandering the entire campus since about 6:30 am on Wednesday to at least find some cash, but all to no avail,” she said, wiping off the sweat on her face.

Reports from students on Idi-araba campus, the campus for students in the College of Medicine, have also been consistent with that of Akoka campus. “I live alone and I do not have cash to cover transportation and feeding expenses by the time I return home. My foodstuffs are in the hostel, I cannot transport them with me due to heavy charges that will be incurred by public transportation. I wonder how I will be able to use my ATM card to eat when I return home,” Esther, a 500 level student from the College of Medicine, Idi-araba, told Edugist.

Cash crunch caused lecturers to miss classes — students


Prior to the NUC directive of closure of universities and inter university centres, lecturers have been missing quite a number of their classes and the reason given has consistently been the cash crunch, UNILAG students told Edugist.

An image obtained by Edugist contains a screen grab of a lecturer’s conversation with his class representative announcing his absence from class due to what he called “money issues.”

IMG 20230223 101424
Screengrab of lecturer’s chat with class rep notifying of absence from class

Academic challenges are already enough trouble for students. However, in a country battling currency crisis caused by a shortage of new naira notes and fuel crises, amid many other challenges that Nigerians struggle with daily, the situation is going beyond the threshold of what should be.

Although the Central Bank Governor announced an extension to the deadline to phase out the old N200 notes, the scarcity of the new naira notes persists. The Central Bank also continues to claim it released more than enough new currencies to Deposit Money Banks, the reality everywhere in the country points to the opposite.


*Names have been changed to protect identities

Share this article

All right reserved. You may not reproduce or republish Edugist content in whole or part without express written permission. Only use the share buttons.

Support Edugist’s goal of giving education a voice

Even a small donation will make a difference.

Related Content

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our customer support team is here to answer your questions. Ask us anything!
???? Hi, how can I help?
Scroll to Top

Fill the form below to download the WASSCE 2024 Timetable

Be the First to Know When we Publish new Contents

“Stay ahead of the educational curve! Subscribe to Edugist’s newsletter for the latest insights, trends, and updates in the world of education. Join our community today and never miss out on valuable content. Sign up now!”