We have to say the truth. We have to declare it wide and near, so we may become free from the illusion and lies that have haunted us. We need to get off this complacency of being premier when irregularities continue to slap the sanity in the university community. We need to reflect deeply, quite in retrospect and even to the point of growing circumspect.
It has always been said that security is a joke in the University of Ibadan campus and this has been proven beyond doubt. The security unit of the school, fondly called Abẹfẹ́lẹ́, has indeed been given the most fitting alias which —if translated from Yoruba to English— means ‘brittle blade,’ I mean, how better can their lack of flexibility be represented?
If anyone would care to hear about my bottled-up grievances, I would readily say that I have had a taste of loss of property more than once as a student of the institution. I would say, too, that I have friends and acquaintances who have also lost their belongings to the towering insecurity in the school. I would note how Abefele has always been of little or no help in security matters, how students have mostly been their own security personnel. I would mention how the padlocked student unionism has led to the suffocation of efficient and sufficient mobilisation of student volunteers for vigilante activities, which would definitely augment efforts by the management.
I could go on and on but, ultimately, the most recent gory case of armed robbery in Awo Hall of Residence remains of huge concern. The fact that the school management is even attempting to play down the severity of the issue, by trivialising it and calling it burglary, is of greater concern. The notice of return left by the armed robbers also further reveals how porous the perpetrators have perceived the school to be. The pangs of trauma and restlessness to be carried around as scars by the affected students, especially the wounded and the hospitalised ones, is another thing.
To say that the UI Campus is now enmeshed in a mess is, sadly, nothing but the truth. Lives and property now have become grossly insecure. Gross misconduct from armed robbers, not just mere thieves or burglars, is now the new order of occurrence. It is undoubtedly true that a number of students living in Awo Hall have not had a peaceful, confident sleep in recent nights since that security bondage. No one can be sure of who is next in line for attacks, as trouble looms and one wonders who would save our crashing plane.
But, seriously, is it not better that the authorities of the school say things as they happened (instead of beating down the reality of the matter), so we might enjoy necessary interventions from well-meaning quarters? Why do we need to call a spade a paint when it is not? Mellanby Hall’s exterior is colourful but its interior is horrible. Why do we need to emphasise our collective rot (like Nigeria’s ills), when we could truthfully itemise them for urgent and swift responses and get help from capable hands who only have to know the actual situation of things? Could it be that we are only trying to escape possible criticisms? Are we not always taught that a problem shared is half-solved?
According to sources, especially Awo Hall occupants themselves, our so-called security men as well as porters ran for cover, while students scampered around their floors seeking solace where it is nothing but just a thin thread of risks between them and their assailing robbers. This then makes one wonder less about how the robbers could have had an easy entry. The attackers’ field day was apparently made possible by the lack of security patrols on campus including the shortness and sleek-for-climbing nature of the hall’s fence, plus the fact that the hall is surrounded by bush and located in a remote area of the school, amongst other notable reasons.
It is quite understandable that the porters and the Abefele officers are mortals like every other person and are not employed to die. No, I too am not saying they should have faced the armed robbers— of course, they do not have guns like the robbers. All I am pointing at, however, is just that there has always been the problem of nonchalance in the way the school’s security system is being handled. The Abefele, particularly, is filled with old men who are not agile or responsive enough for efficient security.
Nonetheless, the needed solution is right here with us, if only we are ready to face it and accept that the University of Ibadan is in a serious security quagmire more than ever before. We have to accept forthright that the security unit of the campus is not worthy of being called so. We must admit too that the security system in place in UI is too weak and porous for anyone to feel safe about. We must take it also that it is the reality of insecurity in the school that has emboldened the attackers of Awo Hall to have left a notice of return, and who knows where else they are planning to launch their promised strike?
When we accept the ugly security reality on the ground, we can then go on to consider sustainable solutions such as ensuring improved and adequate patrols both in form of functional security vehicles around the school vicinity and responsive foot guards around halls. Measures such as making fences unclimbable are also necessary. This way, the fences become taller and the top surface is covered with barbed wire. In fact, there should be burglar alarms and CCTV cameras fitted in strategic places. And I do not think it would even be out of place to employ the service of a few friendly and well-motivated Nigerian military men to further help raise the ante of our security apparatus, especially considering the robbers’ threat of returning.
This issue, amongst other things bedevilling our so-famed first and best institution, is a collective one that requires collective efforts. It is not just about the management but also the students. Everyone is supposed to be security-conscious and yes, of course, students (especially in the male halls) have often nabbed thieves who have usually been handed to the Abefele. Security needs to be better improved across different quarters.
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