Authorities at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) have suspended social activities on campus, citing security and safety concerns. However, students are divided on the issue.
When authorities at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) announced late last month the suspension of social activities on campus, most final year students, who had looked forward to various events to celebrate their exit from the institution, were shell-shocked.
In a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of UNIBEN, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire, activities such as students’ final year week, cultural week and others which may pose a threat to the security of staff and students will not be allowed on campus.
According to the school management, the need to sustain the safety of lives and property on the campus is much important than social activities.
The statement reads in part: “The suspension of social activities on campus is still in force. Management reiterates the need to sustain the existing safety of lives and properties and, therefore, warns against the organisation of activities such as ‘Students final year week,’ etcetera, which may pose a threat to staff and students.
“Staff and students should comply to this directive from the management as a breach of the suspension order will attract appropriate sanctions.”
Meanwhile, students, especially those in final year, have expressed mixed reactions over the move.
Some of them while lamenting the suspension, said social activities such as final year week, among others, help to bring graduating students together and foster unity among them when they leave school.
On the other hand, some students see the move as a safe measure taken by the management to protect the interest of the institution and ensure safety.
A 500-Level student of Agriculture who preferred anonymity said:” I don’t think suspending social activities on campus is the best option to handling security challenges. These social activities have been going on in the school for a very long time and adds so much value to the society at large.
“Activities like the cultural ceremonies bring togetherness among students of the same tribe. It creates unity and oneness.
“The cultural activities have enlightened and educated most students in so many areas. For example, most students who do not know how to speak their mother tongue have been privileged to learn through the cultural associations in the institution.
“It has also brought about enlightenment in the area of our cultural heritage and history of our tribes. We have learnt so much through this activities on campus, so I am not pleased with the suspension of all social activities on campus.”
Edith Okeke, a student of Sociology, described the suspension of social activities on campus as heartbreaking.
She noted that most final year students had got attires in preparation for social activities and were eagerly looking forward to the events.
“It seems that the country is becoming boring. How can social activities be suspended just like that? Even the lawmakers are trying to scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
“If the problem is security then I think strong security measures should be put in place during such social activities to protect students.
“Most of us were looking forward to celebrating the freedom from school after close to five years studying instead of four years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, but now we cannot do so,” she said.
Another student, Emeka Theophilus, said: “Social activities on campus, especially final year activities, are meant to celebrate the successful completion of academic studies. It is a kind of reunion where students get to celebrate with each other before they all set out to different destinations of life.
“This is an important phase of students life and it has brought about unity and joy to students in the past. It is sad that it has been suspended again.”
Also, a final year student of the Faculty of Management Science, Timothy Efetobore, said he was displeased with the ban on social activities.
He stressed that if management beefed up security they would be able to handle any crisis that may arise during social activities.
“The security department of the institution should be refreshed with young men. Most of the security men in UNIBEN are already old and will not be able to handle serious crisis when it arises,” he said.
For Osas Kelvin, a student from the Faculty of Life Sciences, social activities on campus have always been hijacked by people with dubious intentions.
He said some students feel that the final year week events have become an occasion where they can hurt fellow students they may have had issues with and so they take advantage of the occasion.
“The yearly killing or fighting of students, especially during the final year week is saddening. It is something we do not want to experience this year. Last two years, a Nursing student was shot dead by unknown gunmen on campus during the final year celebration.
“So I understand where the school management is coming from. It is a wise move to suspend social activities and we all should adhere to it,” he said.
Merit Obaje, an Anatomy student, said events on campus had always given room for conflict because of the lack of security during such activities.
She recalled that during the 2019 Final Year Week, outsiders were allowed into the school without proper identification.
“During the Final Year Week in 2019, I saw so many flashy cars driven around the school premises.
“Most of those flashy car drivers may not be students of the institution, yet they were allowed into the school. Some of them may have been there to cause trouble and walk away. But if proper identification and search is done before anyone walks or drives into the school, especially during social activities, I do not think we will experience threats to lives and properties of the school,” she said.
Sunday Osawe, a 300-Level student of English and Literature, said: “I do not believe in the so-called celebration associated with graduating in higher institutions. A lot of students have lost their lives in the process and the ban is a move to address violence and killings among cult rival groups.
“Social activities were first suspended on campus two years ago as a result of the assassination of a final year student of the Department of Nursing, by suspected cultists within the school premises.
“Pandemonium broke out at the Ugbowo Campus of the university that day, sending students and lecturers scampering for safety. The deceased, who was heading for a carnival organised for students in Social Sciences, was shot on the neck at close range by an unknown gunman.
“It was later learnt that the assailant drove into the school in a tinted glass vehicle and hid at the car park where he ambushed the deceased and shot him.
“The death of the said final year student had then become a major reason management felt such social activities which may lead to bloodshed among students needed to be nipped in the bud via the ban on social activities.
“While this have apparently eased cult related activities during such social outings, it is however hoped that the ban will in the long run serve as a panacea to such wanton and needless violence among students of UNIBEN. Then other tertiary institutions across the country may imitate such move.”
Lisa Samuel, a 100-Level student of Optometry, believes the school management has taken the right decision.
She said: “School is a learning environment. Therefore, the suspension of social activities by school authorities is commendable. In the long run, students will derive huge benefits from the decision.”
A student who preferred anonymity said: “Social activities remain a source of joy to newly admitted and final year students. But, in recent years, these social activities have become an avenue to foment trouble and mayhem, not only in UNIBEN but other tertiary institutions across the country.
“Therefore, school authorities cannot be blamed for placing a ban on social activities. At present, the security situation of the country leaves much to be desired.”