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  • By: Tunde Jr. Ade

Southerners! Awooo! This is a cheer very common amongst the students of The Polytechnic, Ibadan. More so, the students of the Faculty of Engineering (FENG) who take it as a battle cry, an anthem. And verily it comes with euphoria that can only be compared with orgasmic pleasure.

Like in magnetism, with two poles; North and South, so is The Polytechnic, Ibadan. The only difference being that unlike a magnet in which like poles repel, that of the institution does not. The two campuses, North and South don’t agree on things in most times.

Disunity is no strange occurrence in the heart of man. To be honest, it is as old as life itself. Perhaps, it’s a highlight of our given free will to question things, which would then lead to disagreements, and disagreement often births dispute and segregation.

And of course, there are ancient examples to back this up. Cain and Abel, Israel vs Philistine, Rome vs Carthage. There will always be war, battles and squabbles. Chaos is inevitable, it’s a knack of man, a way to let out steam.

Another is identification. This is probably the real cause of most of our problems. We place too much importance in our identity and we are guided by belongingness. We are quick to isolate ourselves, then labelling others. I am Yoruba, my neighbor is Igbo. We can’t agree on money. Such stereotypes are the causes of disunity in the country.

However, it remains inconceivable that there could be such dichotomy in a small area such as a school campus. When I arrived in The Polytechnic, Ibadan in first few days of 2015, I was quickly inducted to the association of the Southerners. And trust me, it was calming knowing I was among something powerful. We were made to understand that there was only one fraternity in the south and that was the ‘South’.

And truly, never once during my first year did we feel unsafe. It was the regard we got even in the North that made it seem addictive. It was a healthy superiority to the mind of a sixteen-year-old boy.

Let me give you a brief history about the history of campuses in The Polytechnic, Ibadan. With the campus being subdivided into two. It was something quaint to hear for all intakes. And for the fantasy fans, it was a fetish. Those of you who are familiar with Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings would understand.

The south campus mainly comprised of the Faculty of Engineering, which is predominantly male populated, of the ratio of about 30:1. Which is why there is a male hostel in the heart of the south, the great Orisun Hall of residence. This was indeed convenient for Engineering students who wouldn’t have to leave so far away from their classes.

The Northern campus on the other hand has four other faculties combined and three hostels; two for girls and one for boys. It was like two different schooling patterns in one school, the south has the boys only style, while the North was a heterogeneous co-educative structure.

In co-education, people tend to be reserved and collected. It’s simply how the biology of human works, we like to give off good impression of ourselves to the opposite sex. However, in the absence of it, we quickly lose inhibitions.

In the south campus, until lately when the institution population increased, making some departments like Science Laboratory Technology, and Local government Studies move their lectures to South, an Engineering male student might never see a lady for a month if he follows the routine of hostel to class, then back to hostel. It’s worth note that the human mind gives in to its darkest perversion if it’s voids of shame.

The aggressive ones get more offensive; the kleptomaniac steals away. The violent ones incite violence, and the shameless cycle ensues.

I am not categorically saying that the cause of the Southern notoriety is mainly because of the lack of female presence. However, it still is a valid cause, and a strong one indeed.

Notably, before the summer admission of 2011, the Orisun Hall of residence was said to be multi-sexual. It housed ladies in Block A and B. But that was until the management stopped the intake of girls into the hostel, and have them inducted into Ramat and Olori Halls. The two blocks were promptly converted to boys’ hostel.

The reason for this? Apparently, there was incessant cases of pregnancy and sexual assault. If this was the case, one would assume that the school management was justified in their cause of action. After all, the southerners were long infamous even before the presence of Orisun.

It still does not change the fact that the Engineering students were isolated from the rest of the institution. The north campus can be described as the main school, has it contain several administrative buildings, four faculties, several departments, the health centers, the Rectors’ office, two libraries, the bookshop, three hall of residence, two football pitches and the list goes on.

The south on the other hand is a neglected part situated at the main gate. In actuality, there is no love lost between the southerners and the school management, or so how it is presumed.

The management have learnt to become wary of Engineering students. After all, they are the ones always fomenting trouble. The courageous ones who spare no qualms in questioning the governing bodies.

Wherever there was a protest, it had to be spearheaded by the southerners. Why? Because they had the keys to the school’s entrance. The Engineering student weren’t given much, but they salvaged everything they had brilliantly.

There was this time in 2011, then students from the Northern Campus marched down South in hope of locking down the main gate in protest. What they met was worse than they expected, they were roundly and soundly beaten by the engineering students who demanded their pass for such action. They were then chased back to the north. The southern defense? They had no prior knowledge of such protest and would not be a part of it.

As an Engineering student, knowing someone outside fears what you are can get intoxicating. I know this. And this assurance can compel one to abuse it, power corrupts.

Sometime ago, around the spring of 2015, the Faculty of Engineering won the Rector cup. This was amidst funfair, but it actually turned sour quickly, there was a serious altercation that led into a riot. And after that, the southerner withdrew from everything that could associate them with the north.

Fast-forward to that fall, it was time for the SUG cup, the student union had to beg the Engineering students to participate and then promised fairness in the competition. Lo and behold, a southern department won it later on, the Department of Civil Engineering.

It was a long march down south, and what did the boys do? They assaulted everything on their path. Anything that wasn’t of the south, that is. Be it lecturer, students, and even the non-living things were not spared. They reigned terror that evening. Horrid terror in the hearts of the Northerners was just the engineering students having fun. Imagine what will happen if the southern boys were livid, catastrophe.

Let me refreshing your memory of something that happened earlier this year. A pure example of what could happen when the south was angry.

It is the most recent protest turn riot on the 4th of April, this year. Personally, I think this was the most violent the South had ever been. They resorted to more than their bare hands, they armed themselves with bottles and branches. And how did that come to be? Apparently, a major player of the South was assaulted the day before.

It started as a normal protest would at first. I was rudely awoken from my short sleep as I had been working all night. But I indulged them, it can’t be that I assumed. If only I had known.

I was there till the early minutes of seven when the Dean of Students Affairs arrived, he and the Dean of Faculty (FENG) requested audience. Seeing as I had done my part, I returned to my room to sleep off my fatigue.

A deep and long one it turned out to be, but when I eventually woke up, I was greeted to the tales of the Southern assault on the North. Wow, I thought, the South invaded the north. And I slept through it.

This was until I realized how serious their exploit was, did reality dawn on me. We waited for the inevitable which did come. A text flew in with dragon wings, suspending all activities on campus. A breakdown that lasted a whooping six weeks.

After resumption the students were compelled to pay a reparation fee, the sum of 2,300. This would be deserving had it been only thrusted upon the Southerners. But in a cruel twist of fate, the victims of the assault, the Northerners, who had also been sent home for more than a month, were forced to pay too.

This unfortunate incidence, brought back hate in the heart of the North campus. Intense hate for anything South. They avoided the South campus like a plague. A friend even got blocked on WhatsApp after affirming that he was an Engineering student.

Either this is a misconception or not, it is left for the Engineering students to prove the public wrong that they aren’t a menace to the society, and an epoch for that change begins with the Faculty of Engineering coming second in the Asiwaju Inter-faculty Speech Contest organized by Junior Chamber International, The Polytechnic, Ibadan.

There is a villain in every story, the Southerners should remove themselves from such narrative to avoid placation in the near future.

A solution? In my own opinion, the school needs restructuring. Like the one of the Hostel in 2011, just on a larger scale, unity is one thing that defines FENG. It’s what makes them formidable than four faculties combined. Despite the odds, they have bonded well enough. And in honesty, nothing can change that. Southerners are brothers, brothers in arms.

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