UNIMAID in Dire Straits

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For reasons best known to the Boko Haram sect, it had carried out no less than eight attacks on the University of Maiduguri in the last five months with unnerving casualty rate. This, understandably, prompted the call for a police post and consolidated security effort in and around the university environment. Unfortunately, the police think otherwise.

The Borno State Police Command recently ruled out the likelihood of a police post on the university campus on account of terrorism attacks. The state Commissioner of Police, Damian Chukwu, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maiduguri, that the setting up of police posts in the institution would create difficult precedents for other universities to follow.

In his own words: “Let me say here that once you establish a police post in UNIMAID, you would have set up a difficult precedent. This is because every other university would want the police to set up posts on their campuses too. It is not the universities; even other tertiary institutions would want such posts established on their campuses,” he said.

According to him, the police had been collaborating with the university outfit to ensure security at the campus, adding that, “Originally, the university security outfit had been in charge of security arrangements in the university. But since January when we started having suicide bomb attacks, we injected some security agents, including policemen and the military into the system,” Mr. Chukwu said.

But the narrative of the staff and students of the university dismisses Chukwu’s position as they reportedly accused the federal government of not doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks on the institution. These two distinct interest groups on the campus reportedly gave reasons for their stance, which included the non-approval by the federal government of N2.8 billion requested by the university authority to procure modern security equipment to stop Boko Haram from attacking the campus on a larger scale.
But Chukwu’s position that other campuses and interest groups could also make similar demands belies logic. When President Muhammadu Buhari, on assumption of office, moved an entire military command to the North East to tame the menace of terrorism, it was not as if other regions did not have their peculiar security challenges and failed to demand such attention, but they understood the case of the North East and chose to be their brother’s keepers.

Taken from this, which of the campuses in other parts of the country is oblivious of the situation in UNIMAID? Why would anyone or institution choose therefore to rival the university given the seriousness, urgency and peculiarity of their challenge? UNIMAID is not asking for too much and it is within the institution’s right to do so. This is why government must wean itself of this illogic and address UNIMAID’s security challenge.