By Fadare Tolulope
I wish to appreciate the concern of the Editorial Board of Nigerian Tribune about the unfortunate killing of a 400-Level Microbiology student (Oluwafemi Shonibare) of Osun State University, Osogbo by suspected ritual killers. It was an incidence that left the university community devastated as an institution and most importantly as parents and friends of Oluwafemi Shonibare. However, it has been observed that the editorial comment, beside being sensational, was not based on appropriate information surrounding the activities of the university in relation to security of students living on and outside the University campuses.
It is totally wrong and misleading to classify Osun State University, Osogbo, as a ritual shrine in the mould of the infamous Okija shrine in the earlier days of the current Republic, rather the Editorial Board should see incidents of this nature, which sadly occur regularly in our various communities, as a decadence of moral values and desperate search for wealth. I felt this should be seen as a national and social problem which definitely begs for urgent interventions. There is no doubt in my convictions about the academic credentials of this university which are clearly shown in the recent feat of her Law students (who recorded a 100 per cent pass in the Final Law School Examination where the entire Country could only present a 30 per cent Pass), the University representative also came first in a debate organised by Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta among Nigerian Universities. Recently, one of UNIOSUN students graduated as the overall best medical student in Ukraine. This and many more are clear indications of the University’s commitment to quality and effective teaching, research and community service.
It is instructive to posit here that the two examples given in the editorial happened outside the University campuses and to Nigerian citizens who were victims of inhumanity. Despite the fact that the university is a non-residential one, the Management has in place an arrangement where hostels outside the university shall be registered for proper monitoring of the safety of her students, but unfortunately, some owners of such hostels have refused to be part of this initiative. Of course, no known law compels them to do so. Severally also, the Security Unit of the University has collaborations with the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps with positive results on these efforts. The management of the university is not relenting on this type of collaborations.
It is pertinent to note that, none of these ugly incidents occurred on UNIOSUN campuses reinforcing the need for residential facilities on the campuses. Ironically, this same Nigerian Tribune in an Editorial after some “students” of UNIOSUN were attacked by some men of the Nigeria Police in December, 2016 condemned the call of UNIOSUN management for hostel facilities on her campuses as being frivolous. Regardless, the university has initiated a Public and Private Partnership approach in the provision of hostel facilities on her various campuses. This has yielded encouraging results with the interest shown by four (4) different developers and work will soon start on the construction. In addition to this, the abandoned hostel facilities on one of the six campuses are being rehabilitated by the current administration and will be ready soon for the use of the students.
The assertion of a glaring absence of security in the university is not correct. The university’s Security Unit is populated by experienced personnel who are always on ground 24/7 to attend to security challenges that may rear their heads on the campuses. The collaboration with national security agencies has also assisted on several occasions. I am quite aware that the management has resolved to step up the collaboration with these various National Security outfits. “The assailment of students on several occasions by ritual killers on one hand and the Police and the Nigerian Air Force on the other” as alluded to in the editorial, are direct consequences of activities of students outside the university campuses. Swift responses of the university management to all these incidents really calmed down frayed nerves. The university is always in constant touch with the government of Osun State on issues relating to the safety of her staff members and students and responses from the government had always been impressive and encouraging.
Once again, while appreciating the concerns of Nigerian Tribune’s Editorial Board, we want to assure the entire public that efforts will continuously be geared towards the safety of lives and property of staff members and students. I can assure the Public that the University management is leaving nothing undone to ensure proper investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators of this heinous crimes and to show the seriousness of the University Management on ensuring proper prosecution of the suspects in this case, the Deputy Vice – Chancellor (Academic) was personally present in Court, representing the University Management on Friday, 07th July, 2017 when the suspects were arraigned before an Osogbo Magistrate Court. Finally, I will like to advise that these untoward occurrences which are clearly social issues of disturbing national dimensions should not be localised. It will be helpful for society, including the media to collectively, fight these social menace that are threatening our collective existence.
Fadare is a corps member, serving in the Legal Unit, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University.