Humans are the most important resource in any development effort and they must be protected at all costs. Insecurity is a problem in most parts of the world but recently, the level of insecurity has spiked in Nigeria and this is cause for alarm.
Acts of terrorism have become the norm in the North while down in the South, kidnapping, rape and armed robbery have become the order of the day. It is against this background that the recent security challenges currently posing a threat to the peace and tranquillity in Akungba community (which hosts the foremost state-owned tertiary institution in Ondo State – Adekunle Ajasin University) must be viewed.
Recent insecurity issues befalling the community may serve as a major setback for the institution, especially for prospective students. When theft, robbery and fatal road accidents are the order of the day, candidates may be discouraged from applying to the institution as life is more valuable than a certificate.
Areas most affected by this insecurity are the Medoline, Cele and the permanent site areas of the institution’s off-campus hostels. Although these areas are notorious for their high population of yahoo boys and smokers, robbery was never a problem.
Amongst other strategies, the management of the institution is looking in the direction of hastening the completion of a number of abandoned hostel projects littering its campus.
At least two hostel blocks which are about 80% done were abandoned for years but now, the university is working to ensure that they are completed in order to move in some students who can be better protected within the walls on the school.
In an exclusive interview, the Dean of Students’ Affairs stated that recent robbery attacks and persistent accidents on the road has prompted the management to hasten plans to provide more halls of residence that will be able to take in at least 80% of the student populace.
“Although the initial plan of the university was to have [fewer] halls of residence within the school premises. Right now, plans are ongoing for more halls of residence. The one being built by NDDC around the school’s sports complex can house 500 students. The management is waiting for new members to be sworn in so that the project can be completed soon. [The] alumni association of the university also has plans to construct a hall of residence that can take about 500 students. There is also one in construction adjacent [to] the university’s health centre, it can house about 200 students. Gradually, more halls of residence will be built until we are able to accommodate about 80% of our students. Students are our utmost priority and their safety comes first, so these plans will be put in place very soon.”
While the school management is still working on a long term solution to the issue, students who are feeling the first hand impact of the security situation are groaning and calling for a solution within the shortest possible time. According to a student who simply identified himself as Mukhtar, a 400 level student in the faculty of Social and Management Sciences, “I’ve been a victim of insecurity in my area. My property was stolen and I was badly injured. That should give you a glimpse of what I am talking about. It’s something to cry about really. I’m still traumatized. And the situation is not abating. Students are still getting robbed around us. The government, as well as the school, needs to be proactive about issues like this. They need to start providing adequate security for us. We can’t lose our lives in the course of chasing a degree. Something needs to be done immediately.”
Mukhtar is not alone, according to Olumide Adumati (another student who resides in the Cele/Medoline area) students have taken the situation into their hands. He revealed that students have formed a vigilante group that patrols the area to scare away robbers who might be hanging around.
“We started a vigilante group not quite long ago. Since the unrest, we have no security over here. We called on the police (government), nothing. Since the beginning of this semester, we [the] students have taken it upon ourselves to protect our lives and property. By ten pm, we beat drums from time to time for the purpose of warding off robbers. Then by 11 pm, we patrol [while] blowing whistles.”
When asked if the students consulted security agencies and the management of the institution before taking this step, Olumide said: “Yes, we reported to the Police almost every time but they always come up with one complaint or the other. Most times they complain that the roads are bad and they can’t drive through the terrain but surprisingly they come around to arrest Yahoo boys.”
Echoing Olumide’s stance, Mosunmola Babalola a 400 Level student of Political Science said: “Yes, the worst part is that the authorities are not doing anything about it. We [went] to the school’s security unit, they didn’t do anything about it. I was a victim [and] when we were robbed we came to the security unit to complain [but] they were asking frivolous questions, asking if we locked our door, is our area safe and other questions that are irrelevant. The school should do better.”
Refuting the claims that the school is doing nothing, the Dean of Students’ Affairs Dr Owolewa said: “The school has collaborated with the Police, internal security and vigilante [group] in the community and they patrol every night. However, there are some areas that are not motorable and can only be reached via foot. These areas are not easily penetrated by the security officers but plans are underway to improve on the security system to enable them to penetrate the nooks and crannies of the town to bring the perpetrators of this evil to justice.”
The PRO of the University, Mr Victor Akinpelumi, also maintained the same stance’ while briefing journalists a fortnight ago about efforts of the management to curb the situation.
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