Though some of the activities we engaged in during our time may not be obtainable in today’s world, especially with the advent of private universities in Nigeria, where students are monitored both within and outside the campuses. The experiences we went through or engaged in during our time are enough compendium to write about.
During my time, I passed through the school, and allowed the school to pass through me. I participated in many activities, ranging from sports to entertainment and others. Apart from being a footballer, the Students’ Union Building (SUB) was a place to visit every day because; it was just the place to be.
My routine was not complete after a day’s lectures without going to the SUB. It was a place enchantment, where students coming to the University of Ilorin for the first time would want to be. It was a place where you pick rumours of different kinds. Frightening ones, laughable ones and sex escapades of dudes are stuff that excites people. Who was befriending who, and how many times they had gone to bed to do their ‘thing.’ It was also, where an impending strike by cultists; would be heard by those who had their ears to the ground.
On a particular day, when I was at the SUB, deafening gone shots were heard on three occasions, and before I could blink my eyes, the whole SUB building had been deserted. I was one of the first set of people who took to their heels because I was lucky to have heard before the strike that the guys were planning to strike. The informant did not mention the group or cultists who were to strike. He did not tell me also where they were going to strike and what their grouse was. After the gunshots and my lucky escape from the SUB, I rushed to my hostel and then dashed straight into my room. The whole hostel was silent to the extent that the drop of a pin on the floor will be heard. There was complete tranquility. I started thinking about whether the bullet had hit someone that I might know or who could have been maimed by the cultists.
At the dawn of the following day, I moved out to know what happened. Surprisingly; I could not hear what necessitated the attack nor see any injured persons. I was lucky to have escaped unhurt on that faithful day.
The SUB remains a magnetic centre despite the dangers it portends for news hunters like me, and a desire to be among those known on the campus was very strong . I did not stop going there. Whenever there is a break in lecture hours, the SUB was my resting place. I became a confirmed SUB boy getting the latest gist about what was going on in and around the university community.
In another encounter, I was preparing for the first semester examination one faithful afternoon of a lovely Tuesday. A loud gunshot was heard beside the Performing Arts Department. Almost simultaneously, a group of boys in a Honda Accord car drove into the campus with masks, wielding cutlasses and axes while the car moved in the direction of the department. At this point, I didn’t need anyone to tell me that there was a looming danger. I picked up a race with all the energy I could muster and ran straight to the hostel, wandering what must have informed the boys’ outrage. Once again, I escaped unhurt. It was later that I heard that the guys planned the attack in their ploy to stop the first-semester examination. Things like this happen from time; when students have not been studying and are unprepared for examinations. The identities of the masked boys remain unknown until this day.
The SUB remains a magnetic centre despite the dangers it portends for news hunters like me, and a desire to be among those known on the campus was very strong . I did not stop going there. Whenever there is a break in lecture hours, the SUB was my resting place. I became a confirmed SUB boy getting the latest gist about what was going on in and around the university community. My friends know where to find me when they need me as they all enjoy the jokes I would throw into conversations
On a particular day, I visited the SUB, full of life and my buddy beckoned to me. I hugged him as usual. He whispered, “Something is about to happen o” I got the message, and he added, “The cultists are planning an attack”.
This time, it is a battle for supremacy between two cult groups, “a rivalry that had brewed for long”, and my pal told me. It was about which group was the most powerful group on campus.
Then, I later realized that the cult groups on my campus had sent invitations to their counterparts on other University campuses. I was not perturbed.
The place had been my favourite spot since my hundred-level days; it was very difficult for me to stop just like that. Interestingly, since the time I heard about the intended clash, I became very careful. The only adjustment I made in my visits to the SUB was to ensure that I did not exceed 7:00 pm before retiring to my hostel.
On a faithful Thursday, I was busy watching a soap opera amid the crowd who also had left their rooms because of a power outage in the hostel. A portable power generating set was used to power the television for adherents to watch this particular episode at the SUB. As usual, I cracked jokes, and everyone laughed each time I threw one in the course of watching. I was popular because people already identify with me and I made their viewing worthwhile, About five minutes to the end of the drama, suddenly, a loud bang interrupted the watching of the soap. The SUB was thrown into darkness, deafening noise engulfed the building. As everyone scampered for his life, in the melee that ensued, I stumbled on chairs and collided with tables and humans in my effort to run for safety. I hit many things on my way out of the SUB. I forced myself in-between the block of humans and the entrance gate to my hostel. I was trapped with many others because, as I was forcing myself to escape, others were also trying to do the same all at the same time. Miraculously, I found myself in my room and on my bed. How I passed through those tiny Iron rods of the gate and the bulwark of human beings could not be understood. I murdered sleep that day because sleep refused to come. My eyes were widely opened until morning because another shot could discharged and the fear of stray bullets is real.
From that day on and until I graduated from the University of Ilorin, I became terrified of going to my constituency. The Students’ Union Building which used to be my darling spot became a no-go area for me. It was indeed a closed chapter.
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