Students of tertiary institutions caught in the web of the nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in Imo State have complained of the difficulties they face. Our correspondent gathered that most of the tertiary institutions were about to take their first semester exams before the announcement of the lockdown, while some had taken theirs and were on the verge of making preparation to go home. Investigations by our correspondent in Owerri revealed that while students of the Imo State University, Owerri, had finished their first semester examinations, their counterparts at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, were just taking their tests before the incident. For students of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, the situation was not different as the students were also about to take their examinations before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Our correspondent, who went to some of the hostels and lodges scattered in around Nekede, Eziobodo, Umuchima, Ihiagwa, Obinze, discovered that a lot of students were trapped as they could not go back to their parents before outbreak of the virus. Most of them expressed their frustration at the prevailing situation, wondering when it would end. A final year student of Optometry at IMSU, Ebuka, who spoke to our correspondent about his experiences, described it as horrible. According to Ebuka, who lived in one of the lodges in Works Layout, near the university, he had waited behind to continue with his clinical training before he was caught up in the COVID-19 confusion. He said, “My mother had sent some money to me to buy some foodstuffs that would last for one week, thinking that that’s when the pandemic would last and then we will go back to normal lives. But here I am, frustrated and with nothing left.” The same experiences were shared by students at the FUTO hostels and adjoining lodges who could not go home to their parents as some said they had resorted to begging to make ends meet. A student, Nneka, said that she was holed up in her hostel, but was rescued by the parents of one of her friends resident in Owerri. She said, “We had thought that we would resume from the warning strike embarked upon by our lecturers after two weeks, not knowing that we have more problem than we can chew. In fact, I was on the verge of instant death before my friend invited me over to stay with her family when she related my condition to her father. She appealed to the state and federal government to relax the lockdown so that they could at least get some provisions from their parents. A caretaker in one of the lodges at Umuchima, who spoke anonymously, described the condition of the students as pitiable. She said, “As a mother, you cannot but have pity on these students. Personally I have run out of stock helping many of them. In fact, it’s terrible.”