UI Robbery: When Will The Management Get It Right?

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“A handful of soldiers is always better than a mouthful of arguments.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg

ABD’RAHMAN ONIFADE

This writer has been drowned in an ocean of thoughts lately. Two days ago, I wanted to do a piece on the effects of cultism on Nigerian campuses, in commemoration of Students’ Unionists whose lives were truncated in Obafemi Awolowo University 20 years ago, courtesy of cultists and OAU management complicity. But I could not due to some issues. Among the many antisocial acts committed by cultists, mentioned in my text, include: liberal consumption of alcohol, use of psychoactive drugs and smoking of Indian hemps; stealing, extortion and armed robbery; sexual abuse, rape and arson; and manslaughter, murder, assassination and maiming.
These nefarious deeds manifest most times when students’ conscience has been battered and shattered; especially when the Students’ Union has been banned outright or technically ‘suspended’ like the case of the University of Ibadan.

Awo Hall
I join other alumni to condemn in very strong term the inhumane robbery activities that took place in Awo Hall. The culprits who inflicted traumatizing pains on our ‘Amazing Women Only’ hall shall go down in their waterloo and find no peace. The whole stories I have read on numerous timelines are very saddening.
Dear Awoites, even though you have reasons to be scared, please stay strong. I equally would like to commend those courageous Awoites who raised alarm for help via social media. You’re amazing.

UI Security – Abefele
Foremost, it should be borne in mind that security is everybody’s business. Security, without exaggeration, is a catalyst to development. Therefore, management, students, the Abefele and the police must see themselves as partners in progress; even though a chunk of the responsibilities fall on the management.
It is no gainsaying that it is high time the UI overhauled its security unit. I, for one, do not fancy the current Chief Security Officer. A few encounters (including an SDC meeting) I have had with him on campus depicted he has a condescending view of students as some bunch of kids who don’t know what they are doing. This is an aside.
It is an open secret that many of the Abefele personnel are old and have been weakened by age. They are only on the job to get paid and make ends meet. And when some of them eventually get paid at the end of the month, they spend their wages on drinks at ‘Abe Igi’ in Abadina. They seem to have PhDs in harassing students when chances show up; except for a few.
The management can no longer be mortgaging students’ security with aged personnel. While a few of them could be retained based on their experience (which is seldom put to use), I strongly feel young chaps be employed and well-trained to attend to security challenges on campus. Street lights be installed and technologies like CCTVs too.
Likewise, the bureaucracy that characterizes the chains of communications should be revamped. Imagine thieves coming to the hall to rob by 1:00am or so and the Abefele could not get there until about the 2:30am? That is ridiculous.

Ban on Bikes and the introduction of Keke Napep
Some of the Abefeles operated commercial bikes on campus; perhaps to augment their salaries. I recall that while we served at the UISU, one Abefele man had wanted to extort me with his bike just around 9:30pm. Not knowing his identity, I had requested the bike to take me from Faculty of Arts to The Great Independence Hall. He said I would pay N100 which I declined. I seized his key and called Hon. Badmus Adebayo (aka Radical Bayo) from Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall with whom I took him to the Abefele unit, only to discover he was a staff. They pleaded on his behalf though and we let go.
My uninformed guesses tell me the ridiculous policy to ban bikes on campus would exacerbate robbery. What is the possibility that some of those laid off through the ban on bikes are not complicit or getting back? As far back as 2017, I recall that a colleague told me some offices were burgled in the Faculty of Agriculture and about 7 laptops were stolen. In actual fact, some offices of the Executives of the UISU were once broken too. And the management has been paying lip services like those at the top echelon of the nation.
I should like to state that the UI management under the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, needs to realize that students are partners in progress and require honesty when dealing with them. Even though he has banned the SU, he could still have had honest meetings with the Faculty Presidents and Hall Chairpersons and open up that the UI wanted to use the Keke NAPEP to generate funds (Internally Generated Revenues); rather than giving unconvincing excuses that bike operations on campus had promoted robbery. Did bikes also occasion the unheroic thievery that happened at Awo Hall?
I made a few calls to some student leaders on campus this morning and revelations made were that they were even the ones who requested meeting with the management based on hearsays and grapevines about the Keke NAPEP policy. And that the VC in his characteristic temperament told them it was no issue to be discussed with students; that they had already finalized it. Well done sir!

Hostels Facilities
The truth is that the management is robbing the students of so many things. Accommodation fees were upped from N14,000 to N30,000; and yet, what could be shown for it than some cosmetic beautification of walls and superficial renovations? Before the management comes tell us UI is one of the best in accommodation, we should like to tell them otherwise.
Where I am in the north, fresh students pay N12,500 (twelve thousand five hundred naira only) for accommodation and the sophomores (or stalites) pay N7,070 (seven thousand seventy naira).
Their hostels have fans, they are allowed to use hot plates and the helpers clean the hostels twice a day. I mean twice a day; with very humane relations with students. Of course, in this Nigeria. I heard from our predecessors the management had promised to fit fans in each room since 2008 when the fees were upped. Do the rooms have fans now?

UISU Can Secure Students – Not Exaggeration
Though many of our tertiary institutions have continued to stifle students’ voices and the resultant effects could be the upsurge of cultism and other antisocial acts on campus. There is no better time to remind the Vice Chancellor, yet again, that the Students’ Union should be restored.
I recall also that our predecessors in the UISU had laid the foundation for security among students; hence, the Students’ Union Security Committee. When the insecurity gradually surged again, especially when a student was stabbed during a robbery attack along St. Anne’s Hostel in 2017, the SRC 6th Assembly strengthened the Security Committee to also function as a Vigilante Group. Under CSO, Hon. James Ohepo Boniface Olofu , a ‘Bill’ was passed in the House. The Bill had its public hearing in the SRC Chamber with inputs from Defence Ministers, Man O’War, Hall Marshalls and generality students.
Among other things, the Security Committee was broadened to be composed of at least a nominee from each of hall of residence and faculty – making about 26 members – and the Chairman would be a member of the Council Security Committee. The functions of the Committee were to be complementary to Abefele’s activities, not to rival. And the immediate UI CSO commended it and was ready to implement its contents; save the suspension of the SU.
As it stands, only the ‘rank’ and ‘file’ of students under the aegis of the SU can match up these nefarious thieves who want to intimidate students.

NANS JCC Oyo State
I should like to commend the NANS JCC Oyo Axis for its show of intellectual doggedness and a presumable disposition to radicalism in its fights so far for students’ rights. Well done, Comrades!
It is absurd that UI under Prof Olayinka suspended the SU and yet for the past two sessions collects the Union dues. The money generated for the session the SU was suspended was not remitted; hence, at least about N15 million would have been collected from undergraduate and postgraduate students on behalf of the ‘suspended’ SU so far. I do not know what to call this in an institution where students are supposedly being trained to be worthy in ‘character’ and ‘learning’.

Conclusion
I would like to conclude by beseeching the student leaderships of Zik and Indy Hall to mobilize students around Awo Hall for the meantime. The Man O’War too should help; even though the Police should likely be around. I have no doubt that when the tempo is kept high with gyrations, it should ward off these criminals. My uninformed guesses say they could be cultists; after all, the management in its statement says they are aged 15-20 years. How they knew their age baffles me though?
To the management and the VC, we do not pray for any casualties, but #BringBackOurUnion.

You do not run a university in the 21st century with fear and threats and without inputs from the students. You rusticate students and threaten them with SDC in issues in which you cannot be exonerated. Should you continue like this, you would be empowering cultists and endangering the lives of students, to whom like you always claim, are in loco parentis.

I would like to close with Thomas Jefferson’s counsel that:
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

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