The session began with Awoites on a bad note of an introductory page, notifying them of the nature of the hall of residence: arm robbery greeted the hall between 1 am and 2 am, carting away some of their properties and injuring them. Between these times, they calmly “asked for their keys to their (residents) gadgets and made way with them” in peace leaving others in pieces of minds. Those that were robbed were close to the fence of Block C as that place is a lot of opportunities for any rodent and Block B of the hall was also a victim to the incidence.
After the shout, cry and fainting which was, of course, part of the feeble and flexible ways of defence by the female partners, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) came around to see the condition of things, only to later tell residents to go back, as reported, “and sleep”. A student was bothered about the statement which she turned down and almost turned sour for her as she was term disrespectful. This case has been in repetition.
As expected, the media carried the news and it became the thing of the public. Parents started calling their children if all was well, even the male partners received calls from their parents, maybe their parents thought it was still a mixed hall. Some of the girls ran away from the hall for days feeling the crisis still in their bones.
HOW COME DID THE VICE-CHANCELLOR KNOW ABOUT THE “BURGLARY”?
In Nigeria, data (a record) is expensive as we find ways to explore and guess how one could have received a knowledge of a thing. The advance of technology increases falsehood anywhere inconsiderate of the age or race, but thanks to those that are enthused by social media despite the expensive data charges.
The Vice-Chancellor posted on his Facebook page about his adventure, or say encounter, with French republic which he titled “An Evening with Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic”. It was an invitation he honoured which was a 2019 Summit of the U7+ Alliance of World Universities which held on 9 and 10 July 2019 at Paris. The story which he posted on Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 8:24 am obviously showed that he had been in this republic since at least July 9, 2019.
July 12, 2019, greeted the University of Ibadan with a post from the management which was received from the Vice-Chancellor. At the theft point – Awolowo hall, it was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin), Professor Adebowale who was around to lay peace on the environment. Administratively, the management would not be able to carry out any operation without orderliness. What about the report to the Vice-chancellor that spurred the release from him that there was “minor injury”, “burglary” and some languages that didn’t explain how intense the operation was?
LESSON FROM PARIS
He would have decided to make his way if he was around just as Macron did. Storytelling shouldn’t just die as a story, but we are good at taking down records and good at holding on to our unchanging approach.
“As we were having drinks and exchanging banters before the commencement of the program proper, a knowledgeable security man in the Presidential palace told us on a lighter note that France is better off electing old people as President. According to him, President Macron would only be 48 years old by 2026 when he would be expected to complete the maximum two terms of five years each permitted by the French constitution. He would thereafter be on pension till the rest of his life at the expense of the French taxpayers. The life expectancy in France in 2018 stood at 80.1 for a male and85.7 for the female while the total life expectancy is 82.9. This gives France a World Life Expectancy ranking of 5”.
“As I introduced myself to the President Macron as the Vice-chancellor of Nigeria’s premier University, he replied ‘oh, I know Nigeria. I have worked in Lagos and Abuja before’. I was happy that he has some familiarity with my beautiful and great country”.
“As the dinner formally wound to an end, President Macron went round to once again greet his guests. When it came to my turn, I delivered the message my son forwarded to me on Whatsapp a few hours earlier whereby he said ‘Tell Emmanuel Macron he’s doing a fantastic job in France and the EU’. The President laughed heartily. Professor Patrick Awuah, Vice-Chancellor of Ashesi University in Ghana and my humble self, requested taking a selfie with the President which he kindly obliged”.
If the Vice-Chancellor was around, the lessons he garnered from Paris would have aroused him to at least, drive down to Awolowo hall to see the situation instead of waiting for a “false” report. In a case where there is a conflict of trust between two sides – or where a side insists on an occurrence, a mediator comes in to do a check and draw out a reliable and neutral conclusion, but the University at large was shocked that the age range of these armed robbers was known and that it was “minor” injury and just “burglary”, but this couldn’t have been if it’s not a false report.
July 22, 2019 – A LITMUS TEST
An alert crept in. Everyone jumped up, hands lifted as if a new song of Hallelujah or Allahu Akbar would begin, minds closed, heads banged, helter-skelter they ran, looking for a tool or something to bring justice for themselves. It was past 10:00 pm. Instead of saying “God bless UI, God bless Nigeria”, it was a noise of “God help UI, God, save our lives, Awo hall again”.
10 days later, after the big event on July 12 which was reported by the management that it was “burglary” and a lot of people started praising the Vice-Chancellor on his Facebook post – just a matter of 10 days, when security officers (Abefele) were deployed to the hall, a test was done after examination.
Past 10:00 pm, room C15 – in the absence of the occupants, entertained a petty theft. There is no action as such that must not cause an uproar. If this could happen in a distance of 10 short days and the July 12 armed robbers had promised to come back, definitely, it must be a litmus test. Since the security post in the hall isn’t up to the task of taming pettiness, and students are angry and have decided to deal with anyone caught, they – from Zik, Indy and other halls – took the challenge up to catch whoever it was. If the person was caught and handed over to the students, life would leave him or her. Then they got to Awolowo hall, with the urge to go in and pick the thief. The noise here and there, both jesting and the serious types. Vampires may thirst for innocent blood, but these were there for justice. They held on to the porters’ lodge’s door, almost putting the security officer apart. Other officers were there, standing by their patrol van watching, some clothed in their brown “kaki” and many in their guard appearances (some had a cardigan with touch light and their stick).
It was expected that if any thief was caught, the security officers should release him/her, but it became an issue of interest of whether they want to protect the thief or there was no thief at all. Then the question arose – “was a thief caught?” the controversy spanned for minutes as nobody wanted to agree with the security and some of the ‘guys’ appeared to foist trust. Residents from other Halls asked if it was a false alarm and it was a surprise that Bibire, the Hall President of Obafemi Awolowo Hall posited that the alarm was false, though people didn’t agree with her position, so they asked to allow leaders from each hall to check the hall. After checking the affected block – block C, the hall leaders came to report that “there is no floodlight, no burglary on either the door or windows which made it prone to attack. They noticed that no thief was caught, and also, nothing was carted away on that night. They also reported that the floor is detrimental for anyone to stay and with immediate effect, the menace has to be remediated.
There was no solution on the spot until the hall representatives approached the school management to table the best solutions that can work which include cutting of the overgrown trees around the block, provision of floodlight and burglary. Should this be done, the hall will not experience such troubling incidence anymore.
The few actions that were dramatized may just be embryonic as more would have been done and silenced. For a hall of residence to still be porous despite the deployment of security officers should have been a lot of concern and call for a strategy on a lasting solution to the recurrence. There is also a security post situated around H or G block but an old man in his age of rest and of little functionality mans the place and he is being prided of as a better option. This is known to the best reasons for the school management but remains puzzling in the minds of the masses.
WAS THERE THEFT?
“There is no robbery in Awo. Only a room was broken into. It is the work of an insider and he didn’t even have time to take anything. The door was damaged but the occupant said the thief only took away the local piggy bank. You can quote me” – UI. Chief Security Officer.
If anyone comes to testify that theft didn’t occur, it means he is saying the officer doesn’t understand his job. The Chief Security Officer made it known that it wasn’t robbery unlike that of July 12, but it was theft action by an insider. Robbery demands the use of a weapon. It would not have been easier if an insider knows nothing about this. For someone to know a common route to takes after carrying out a foreign operation should be through the information of an insider. The first suspect, by observation, should be those that fetch water for the girls while any other suspect would be any of the residents or enemies like friends. Girls staying on Awo Hall are not expected to have the strength to fetch water and climb the stairs every time if not through the aid of a manly person, hence the employment of a water-boy technique. The report stated that during the first armed robbery, the robbers were speaking the “Ibadan” dialect.
When the occupant of C15 was contacted, she confirmed that the room was ransacked and a piggy-bank of her neighbour stolen.
“My roommate and I already left the room to where we normally sleep. A girl came in to tell us that someone was peeping in our room, so we went to call the security in the kitchenette to follow us to the room. On getting to the room, we met the whole room scattered and our boxes were scattered. The person went back through the back door”, she said.
THE VEIL TO BE UNVEILED – THE MARRIAGE
There was an indelible decision along with a message sent to Awoites on the orientation program that was supposed to take place at the Faculty of Arts Large Lecture Theatre on July 27, 2019. The orientation program was organized by the Hall management and residents who had classes were told to get letters of excuse from the Hall secretary and hand over to their Heads of departments, and whoever was not at the orientation ground would be evicted. As important as the program was, a total of 1374 occupants of Obafemi Awolowo Hall were expected to be on a seat by 7 am (to be conveyed with Buses). What called for concern at first was the reason behind this forceful drive and why this orientation was still needed for students who have spent all their lives in the hall of residence.
A call was made to the Hall President, Bibire about why it was made compulsory and her report brighten the moment as reasons were laid accordingly. A leader who recognizes his duty makes every step to resolving conflicting issues and makes it possible to better the lives of the people he leads.
“Why do you think that should not be compulsory? So if you have a security issue and they came into the hostel, some girls jumped from the Balcony down. One currently has an issue with her leg. These girls don’t know how to comport themselves when there is an emergency and you are asking me why it should not be compulsory!” she said. “In a hall that almost had a stampede when after the whole incidence ended. People were running to the only exit everybody knows. A girl fell and everybody just kept stepping on her. Somebody fainted and I was the only person in the hall that know how to care for her and you are asking me why it should not be compulsory!” she continued.
“ONCE IT IS 10 PM, NO BOYS AROUND THE HALL”
The orientation venue was shifted to Lakeside lecture theatre (CBN) because of the population of the attendants. That doesn’t mean all Awoites would be present, but a reasonable number of them were around. This orientation is best for freshmen but because of the current issues in the hall, everyone needs to understand the art of comportment and how to settle things without disorderly manners. Maybe every time, they should be reminded that they are on the outskirt of the colony. Among all halls of residence, only Awolowo hall stays on the extreme. How can a solution be brought to this menace? Hence, orientation.
After the spiritual exercise that was started with, Professor Babatunde Bewaji admonished the residents on the judicious and effective use of their gadgets, making goodness and kindness a habit and that happiness is about contentment”.
Dr Doyin who was part of the speakers presented the state of the hall and projects have done so far. Speaking at the orientation, she made a remark that “they have to be afraid of you, not you afraid of them” – a move to strengthen Awoites and make them understand how to properly tackle challenges. “The management”, she said, “has considered shut down of the Hall due to the incident that occurred”.
One of the other solutions to avoid false alarm was to “retrieve whistles and redistribute”. The menace of water provision which employs the use of water-boy would also be solved by “identifying themselves and providing water to the top floors in the next three weeks”. An Awoite posited that at the orientation, it was said that “water-boys would be sent away” One of such decision was that “once it is 10 O’clock, no boys around the hall”.
A LASTING REMEDY
The authority has provided simple solutions to drive out such reiterated event, and that no one would be allowed to loiter around the hall once it is 10 pm, but a problem solved once is a problem solved all. By 12 am, every female is expected to be in her room and that’s the best time a male can last in the hall.
In addition to the solutions made around the blocks like cutting of the grasses and some trees, and subsequent works going on, the school authority can decide to create mini shops around the hall of residence and along the dark parts of the environment with streetlight planted on these corners up to Zion and the road leading to Awo stadium – these are all hideouts (all other halls have at least two shops surrounding them) – a busy area employs the best safety measure. This would allow the deployment of security officers from day to dawn instead of their presence recognized only at night. To make things easier, security building can be situated around the hall, especially along the Car park for easier operation and shelter. No amount is enough for the security of lives and properties of students.