8 November 2012

Nigeria: Insecurity, 'Off-Campus' Predicament

For every one Nigerian student who will gain admission into an institution of higher learning this year, there are at least two others who will not. It is no wonder, therefore, that the lucky few who will matriculate into the 2012/2013 session are simply thankful to have gotten in.

Thankful enough to embark on stressful distances from homes to schools, if possible; thankful enough to squat under atrocious living conditions with their friends on campus hostels; thankful enough to rent off-campus hostels at exorbitant prices and with minimal security.

But despite the increase in the number of students who gain admission into institutions of higher learning, a major problem facing most schools is inadequate accommodation facilities, making many students seek accommodation off-campus in the surrounding localities.

Though the students significantly change (positively or negatively), the physical and socio-economic environment of their communities, they also experience some problems such as inadequate security, increase in rent, crime occurrence, among others.

Reports say that 75 per cent of Nigerian students live off-campus. Seventy-five per cent minus the 27 students killed in cold blood early last month at Wuro-Fatuje, a heavily populated off-campus hostel housing students of three different tertiary institutions in Adamawa State.

No doubt, Ugonna, Llyod, Tekana and Chidiaka, the four students of the University of Port Harcourt who were killed in a feat of jungle justice by a mob in Aluu community of Rivers State, were also once thankful to have gained admission.

Vanguard Learning sought the opinions of security experts and students on how to ensure students' safety.

Some students who spoke to Vanguard Learning called on the government and concerned stakeholders to build more on-campus hostels for students so as to ensure students' safety. According to Usman Shuiabu Rano, SUG President, Bayero University Kano, "in as much as it's advisable for students to live in hostels situated in their schools, a major setback is that there are not enough hostels to accommodate all students.

"Nigerian students are appealing to government and other concerned stakeholders to build more on-campus hostels for students as events have shown that it's safer for students to reside on school property."

In agreement is Rhino Owhorkire, immediate past SUG President, University of Port-Harcourt, who opined that students' safety should always come first.

"The problem of insecurity is affecting every state of the nation, making it necessary for the construction of more hostels in campuses of our various institutions.

"This is calling on government and stakeholders in the education sector to make students' safety a top priority by building more hostels. Off-campus students of University of Jos are afraid for their lives because they don't know when the next unrest in the state would happen."

In Owhorkire's opinion, the four students killed in Aluu would have been alive if they were staying on campus.

Chief Charles Keku, the Chief Executive Officer, Pahek Securities Limited, said; "There is no doubt that the off-campus hostels are in more dangerous territories than those that are on campus. The disadvantage with off-campus hostels is that they are not placed in one environment and, as a result, there is little or no control, regulations or surveillance systems put in place. However, students who stay off-campus could keep themselves safe by leaving home during the day, and arriving during the day as it is quite rare for such incidents to happen during the day. "

Also speaking on the solution to insecurities in schools, the security don said: "There are a lot of solutions to insecurities in schools, but the main solution is the dissolution of cultism. Individual students have to learn to avoid cults. Also parents must teach their children to avoid moving with bad friends."

Keku also admonished Nigerian universities on the need to have an intelligence network. "Beyond just expelling students who are caught in the act," he said, "intelligence networks can help the school management anticipate and prevent such happenings. This involves employing trained security personnel beyond those who sit at the gates. The presence of police personnel on campuses will also discourage trouble makers."

Although a university always opens up a town to development opportunities, the disadvantages abound. Crisis on campuses have been known in times past to escalate to the town, thereby causing a rift between indigenes and students. Reports say that members of the Aluu community had been victims of the atrocities perpetrated by campus cults. On the other side of the coin, indigenous crisis which at the beginning had nothing to do with students, have found students caught in the crossfire. Either way, history has shown that the off-campus students get hit the most.

Copyright © 2012 Vanguard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.