BY PATRICK OBIA
It was an English philosopher and scholar, Thomas Hobbes who postulated in his book, Leviathan, Book I, Chapter 13 that; “Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge on the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Hobbes, in this chapter of the natural condition of mankind concerning their felicity and misery, states clearly that all men are made equal by nature while acknowledging that some men may be smarter, or stronger than others even though in the end, this does not impede man’s ability to achieve his means as man’s aspirations and quest for a better life, leads to the locking of horns which lead to hostility.
In light of the above, life is full of protagonists and antagonists, who all bring about the reality of life stories.
The recent arson in the University of Calabar (UNICAL) can be likened to what Hobbes described as the “state of nature,” wherein, in the past few weeks, the Ivory tower, founded 47 years ago, has lost back-to-back, academic infrastructure to fires.
Though, the varsity has, in recent years, witnessed violent activities that have led to the destruction of infrastructure, the most recent which occurred on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 which saw the Department of Continuous Education and Development Studies razed is fresh in mind.
This is coming three weeks after the Department of Mathematics, was razed on Sunday, 30 January 2022 by what many have described as “strange fire” at the wee hours of that day. A week later, on Sunday, 6 February 2022, the Department of International Relations was gutted by the same magical fire with no history so far with almost nothing saved.
While the cause of the fire remains a mystery to management, students and the public, there are allegations that, some aggrieved students in the varsity have hands in the destruction as a result of the management’s increment in school fees as well as courses registration which have generated public uproar.
Also, there are insinuations that students are vexed over the fact that the school is yet to finish its first semester talk less of starting second semester especially as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) indefinite strike has commenced.
Whichever is correct or wrong, there is no reason to justify destruction in any guise. Meanwhile, this is not time for blame game on whose fault it is.
It is time to look at the continuous arson with eagle eyes whether done by students or enemies of the institution or whoever; it calls for all hands to be on deck, lest it renders academic activities in the varsity impotent.
UNICAL management should, as a matter of urgency, beef up security in the campus to protect its assets especially during odd hours but must be careful in order not to affect the innocent ones. Though it is said management has imposed curfew and halted night classes to checkmate insecurity.
Furthermore, in as much as the institution has increased its fees/service charges, there is needed for an extension in the closure of the portal.
Like the holy book says: “while men slept, the enemy came and sowed a wrong seed,” It is not time to input damage charges in the service charges to innocent students rather, it is a wake up call for management and relevant security agencies to dive into action and carry out tight investigation and bring perpetrators to book.
Finally, when a child is beaten, the child runs back to who beats him or her for consolation. Therefore, the management of the University of Calabar as a parent should listen to the wailing of their children (students). A stitch in time saves nine.
Patrick Obia is a journalist and writes from Calabar, Cross River State.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Patrick Obia and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.