By MSONTER ANZAA
It was long in coming; taking all of nine years. When the news broke of the accreditation of the College of Health of Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, many students could not believe it. Their attitude was that of “we have heard that before”.
On several occasions, their hopes have been raised and dashed over the college’s accreditation. The long wait ended last November 15, following the visit of the accreditation team of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to the university’s teaching hospital.
Before accreditation, the students, many of whom have spent not less than seven years in the college, had protested to draw attention to their plight. The MDCN team visited the hospital in June and was not impressed with what it saw. It gave the management six-months to meet certain requirements, failing which the college may be banned.
In February, students besieged the Benue State Government House, demanding to see Governor Gabriel Suswam, but they met his Deputy Chief Steve Lawani.
After waiting for eight months, the students again demonstrated against what they dubbed the management’s inability to secure accreditation for the college. The protest led to the closure of the college for about six weeks. During the period, the accreditation team came to access the college’s facilities.
After the initial disbelief which greeted news of the accreditation, the students took to the Facebook to celebrate.
President of the Benue State University Medical Students Association (BESUMSA) Kawen Pededo, 400-Level Medicine, wrote on his page: “It means we now have something that will take us up to graduation.”
Speaker of the association’s parliament, Andrew Iorkyaan, also in 400-Level, said he got the news from a friend but did not believe it. He said he did not envisage the accreditation coming the way it did, pointing out that the greatest pain he suffered during the “years of stagnation” was the time and opportunities he lost.
Stephen Tornyor, a 400-Level student, who has spent seven years in school, said he has been part of the struggle for accreditation since 2006 and was shocked when the news came in. He said his worst moment during the “stagnation” was when people made derisive remarks about his future.
He said he was now preparing for the lecture halls and hospital wards “because that is where I rightly belong.”
Another 400-Level student, who claimed to have been in the university for eight years, Jeff Isah, thanked God for the accreditation. He thanked The Nation for its support during “our long years of struggle for accreditation.”
The Public Relations Officer of the medical students’ association, Samuel-Nelson Atsehekaa, 300-Level Medicine, said he was elated by the news, adding that his morale was dampened whenever he thought about when he would graduate.
Ferdinand Mbahon, 400-Level, said his most challenging moment “during the stagnation were the discouraging comments from friends that almost killed my zeal for studies along the line.”
The college re-opened last Monday and students have since moved into their hostels. Addressing the students on Tuesday, the Provost, Professor, Shima Gyoh, blamed the delay of the accreditation on poor design of the teaching hospital and admission of students when the hospital was not ready.
Prof Gyoh noted that he passed through medical school without accreditation problem, saying what happened would make the students to be sensitive to their environment. He “assured them that the hospital had full accreditation” promising that he and other staff were not going to make money from them by selling lecture notes or forcing them to buy books.
The Dean of Preclinical, Prof Simeon Adebisi, read out the timetable to students, urging them to return to classes now that the collective struggle is over.
At the time of filing this report, students were seen tidying up their rooms and getting ready for lectures which have since begun.
By MSONTER ANZAA