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Aftermath Of Insurgency: Unimaid Students Narrate Ordeal



The activities of the boko haram sect in Borno State has no doubt, caused havoc in the lives of the people in the state. While the citizens have started to get on with their lives, the aftermath of the crises continues to linger everywhere in the state, including the University of Maiduguri (UniMaid), Borno State. PREMIER,  writes. As students in the country continue to wait for the two elephants, the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reach an agreement and call off the strike action, students of University of Maiduguri have taken time out to reminisce on the activities of the boko haram sect in the state, which eventually spilled over to their school. Though no bomb blasts have been recorded in the school for quite a while, the students have continued to observe caution as a result of experiences garnered from the insurgency. Students, who are mostly born and brought up  in the city would never have believed that their lives would be turned upside down in their search for education. Twenty five-year-old Emmanuel Ebere, a 400 level Civil engineering student, would never forget the first time he experienced the dreaded boko haram activities in 2014. Emmanuel had just finished his midnight studies in his classroom, when around 3am, he decided to see a female student off to her hostel before heading back to his. “I was seeing a friend off to her hostel after studying, and we were just few meters to where a bomb suddenly exploded. That was the first time I witnessed it in the school compound. We were walking down when we noticed security men flashing torches. We didn’t really know what was happening. We heard shouts and the blast. I wanted to run, when I remembered there was a lady with me. I turned back, grabbed her and we ran to another hostel, far away from the blast. I was shaking. That experience, I will never forget,” he said. He added that though there had been reported blasts in the past that had killed some students and lecturers in the school, the very one he experienced fortunately killed only the suicide bomber who detonated the bomb. Ebere added that like its slogan, Home of Peace, Maiduguri before boko haram struck, was a peaceful place, fun to grow up in and definitely a right place to seek education. “Life in Maiduguri was very peaceful. It was like the normal growing up, not until the boko haram strike. I can still remember that in 2009, boko haram crises started. We were here one Sunday morning, when we started hearing gun shots. The state wasn’t safe any longer especially for us boys and men. If you were a young guy, no matter your age, as far as you are tal, you’re not safe. The military was arresting people at many places. They didn’t ask questions,” he reminisced. Ebere stated that education in a state of insurgency wasn’t an easy one as one had to think not only about studying, but also about being  safe. “It continued happening because the school didn’t have a fence then. It made school boring because you are scared going to class. Reading became difficult. Even in the class, you don’t know who is who. If you see people with Hijab, you just get scared. At a point, my mum asked me to come back home. But I had no choice. I had to return to school to continue my studies,” he said. John Joseph, a 21-year-old Mechanical Engineering had a choice “not to” come to UniMaid but he came. His elder siblings, who graduated from the same school, had encouraged him to seek admission in the school. “Just make sure you are cautious. Don’t go where you are not supposed to be,” they had told the jittery John. John, who is now in his second year, stated he had never regretted getting admission in the school despite the insurgency. “I just heard about the numerous blasts that had occurred in the school. The little I came close to the violence was when I was walking down to the hostel with my friends and we heard multiple gun shots. We were all advised to stay put in our hostels,” he said. John, however, stated that the insurgency has put the students into so much stress as they had to wake up earlier than usual to prepare for lectures due to security check points in the school. “You just have to work with time. You have to get up early in other to meet up with your classes. You have to go through two or three check points because you will be searched. If you have a 7 am lecture, you have to start coming to school like one hour earlier. Again, you have to carry transparent bags or carry your books in your hands. If you have to carry a bag, you should endure the search,” he said. For Christy John who got admission in 2009 when the activities of the sect was ‘hot’, it was a hell of a situation in which she found herself. She was left with a choice of either forfeiting the admission or staying back. She opted to stay back and fight it out. “The crises started like a joke. We were hearing stories of bomb blasts and shootings in some communities in Borno State, until it came down to Maiduguri and to the school. We were warned to be security conscious. It wasn’t easy at all.  We were scared of going to the market. I had to pack all the foodstuff I needed from home because going to the market was a no, no for me,” she said. Christy, who lived in a community close to the campus, called Merikuwiat, stated that they were living in fear then as security was not too tight in the area. “I remember one day, while I was sleeping, I heard a loud bang. It was a bomb blast. I woke up suddenly, it was as if the earth was crashing down on me. It is a day I will never forget,” she said. Another day Christy will never forget was the day she was coming back to school from Yola. She explained that they had arrived before the time for the curfew which was 6pm and the driver had promised to take his passengers, mostly students, to the school. However, they could not get to their destination because when they got to Lagos Bridge in Maiduguri, they saw people abandoning their cars and running as fast as they could to any direction their legs could take them. “The driver told us to find our way as he would not be able to take us to the school. We pleaded with him to take us to the park but the problem was that there was no way to even get to the park. It was just God. We were able to follow through some communities to the park where we passed the night and continued our journey the next day. It wasn’t funny,” she said. The Banking and Finance graduate continues to thank God that after all she passed through, she was able to graduate without being a casualty to the dreaded Boko Haram sect. “My graduation was a huge relief. I was really thankful to God. I know some students had to move to another school. Some who had money went abroad to continue their education. When I left, Maiduguri, I vowed never to come back again,” she said. Christy with all her vows, had, however, found herself back in Maiduguri as she is searching for a job to sustain herself. “I heard I can come here and volunteer with an NGO. With the economic situation, to get a job is a problem so I am back here. Thank God the situation, even though is not far from ending, has subsided,” she said. Though the Northeast is not yet out of the woods when it comes to the boko baram attack, the students are happy that the insurgents were not able to penetrate the school which might have led to the closure of the school. “We are proud that we are making progress. It shows that the military and the school security did and are doing their best,” John stated. He added that for him, the insurgents have not in any way decreased the number of  students seeking admission in the school, which he said shows that ‘education’ is still winning. “The standard of education in UniMaid hasn’t dropped. People will tell you to just get the admission and be alert. I think the standard is what people are looking at. People do not mind getting the best education, even with the stress. Our medical college still remains one of the best,” he said.