By Ebunoluwa Sessou & Oreoluwa Somuyiwa
Recently a 200-level student of reputable Lagos State University, LASU, was raped on her way from school by some hoodlums at about 8.30 pm.
According to an eyewitness, she was returning from a tutorial class when the incident occurred. She was living off-campus.
Another incident was the report of how late Favour Daley Oladele, a student of LASU who lived off-campus, was brutally murdered by her supposed boyfriend who was also identified as a former student of LASU.
Several similar incidents have occurred and this is solely because of how impossible it is to trace, unlike those staying on-campus where the movement of the students is monitored by the officials allocated to the hostel. The identities of visitors are gotten and there are limitations to certain activities.
It is no news that students who stay on-campus enjoy a more secure environment compared to the students who live off-campus.
There have been a series of reported cases that have resulted from insecurity issues affecting students who live off-campus. So many others are not even reported.
According to another eyewitness, “Two weeks ago at Iba Estate, a car driven by a young man parked and a lady alighted from it. She waved him goodbye and a few minutes later after he drove off, the lady ran mad”. This is a student who lived off-campus and to date, nothing has been done about it. The reason might be because students who live off-campus are not properly followed up.
There are cases where students especially females are robbed of their belongings, stabbed and sometimes raped in their various hostels.
A graduate of LASU, Miss Favour Sunday, recounted her ordeal as a victim. In an interview with WW, she said, “We were four girls in the room that day at Ojo area of Lagos. On that fateful day, our hostel was robbed and they barged into our room and raped everyone in the room.
“I was depressed to the extent that I almost took my life. But God helped me throughout the tragedy. We did not report to the school authority simply because we felt no punishment would be meted on the perpetrators. So, we resorted to destiny. The affected students become psychologically, physically and mentally unbalanced”, she said.
Other reasons for the fright nursed by off-campus girls is the issue of transportation. Students who stay on-campus make it early to classes but those who stay off-campus struggle to get buses and after getting one finally, are stuck in traffic and they sometimes miss classes and tests. Sometimes students in Mass Communications department trek miles from hostel to school due to heavy off-campus and our administration tried to provide security lines that the students can contact immediately when a situation arises. Though we got calls and they were properly attended to, but we know efforts to curb that are still not enough. We hope the students themselves should be responsible enough to be careful and at least stay out of trouble, and also hope this present administration will bring great improvement.”
Probably, one of the key solutions to this issue is the provision of more hostels by the government on-campus that will accommodate at least 80% of students.
Chairman House Committee on Information, Mr. Tunde Braimoh, said, “Tackling insecurity issues on campuses especially as it affects women should be a proactive measure between the National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Information and Strategy to work together and engage everybody.
“Everyone needs to be involved. Parents must parent well. Guardians must mentor and tutor well. Parents must be held to their task to inculcate the right attitude and values in their children. The society must stop recognizing or appreciating superficial influences with sudden and unaccountable wealth.
“Women should know that they are more vulnerable and that is why it is important to dress decently. We should be aware of our surroundings and mindful of our safety.
“I will also appeal to the school authorities to keep watch on their wards. The fact that they are living off-campus does not mean that they should not be protected. The school should organize security patrols in those areas. Our law enforcement agencies should be mindful of the vulnerable students and ensure their safety”, he said.
In her response to the issue, Dr. Ifueko Thomas, a Character Educator, took another dimension on the issue. According to her, building up a good character will help curb all those vices that have taken over society.
Her words: “The extent of moral decadence in Nigeria among the youths is high. Education is not about ABC or 123, it should be in total. Education without character is in vain. There should a balance between education and character. A doctor that is honest is better than a doctor that is dishonest.
“As educators, we need a better curriculum. We need part of our education curriculum to include civic and moral education. We need character education. It is all-encompassing. As an advocate of character education, I make bold to say that character education is critical as it will address moral decadence.
“Nigeria needs to be saved. Our educational system is in a dismal situation and that is why the Save Education in Nigeria Dialogue was organized by the Concerned Parents and Educators Initiative, CPE. It is not the duty of one person alone. We must all work together to ensure that our educational system comes back.
“Those days, people used to come to Universities in Nigeria to study from other countries. Now, our people are running away. When we were in school, we were so proud. Nobody wanted to leave Nigeria to go and study abroad.
“At some points, we derailed. I cannot put my figure to it but we know that something is wrong and we need to fix it.
“Issues of cultism and rape cases in school, especially among younger women who live outside school campuses need to be addressed from the grassroots. From the early years, children should be taught character education from nursery school. If we start early teaching character education, we will not have problems of cultism or ritual killings, rape cases in schools and among the youths.
“In those days, we used to demand respect from our children, but we are no longer doing that”, she closed.
Braimoh noted that perpetrators cannot go unpunished. People should learn to report cases of insecurity and once they are reported, it will be duly investigated and I can assure you that perpetrators will not go unpunished.