By: Inuwa Bwala
The University of Maiduguri: one of the highly rated second generation universities in Nigeria is located in the hotbed of the Boko Haram crisis. It has had its own share of the attacks, but has refused to allow that disrupt both academic and other activities on campus.
Coupled with the COVID-19 protocol, which also disrupted life generally, nobody thought the situation permits any form of luxury, especially sporting activities which has the tendency to pull crowds.
It was therefore a surprise that a sporting team from Borno could win in a competition against others, which came from other environments where things are normal.
The victory by the University of Maiduguri contingent at the just concluded Higher Education Institutions Football tournament in Lagos was both a shocker to many and a proof to others that something good could still come from that troubled enclave.
Nobody gave the Desert Warriors: as they are christened, a chance beyond the preliminaries, in the competition, against the background that they were coming from a troubled environment and against the perception that sporting activities no longer take place in the entirety of Borno state.#But apparently determined to prove bookmakers wrong, the University of Maiduguri team did not only advance, but went on to win the coveted trophy; contrary to pre- tournament permutations.
Like the parabolical lizard falling from the top of an iroko tree and surviving, the vice Chancellor, Professor Aliyu Shugaba declared a work free day as a mark of honour and in celebration of the feat achieved by his lads. Shugaba called out the entire university community, who in turn rolled out the red carpet for the team last Monday. The Government and the people of the state were not left out of the celebrations, as they trooped out in thousands to the airport to receive the Desert Warriors.
As they drove through the streets of Maiduguri to the University campus, people: including non sports enthusiasts cheered them on and sang and danced the victory songs along with them.
To many, it was beyond the victory of the team at a sporting meet, as Borno is not new to such victories, rather it was the triumph of hope over despair, in the face of fears that Borno may never smile again.
That the streets of Maiduguri, which were hitherto deserted as citizens flee from Boko Haram is today the scene of merry making is partially what informed this piece. The fact also that the situation confirms Governor Babagana Umara Zulum’s promise to the University that he will collaborate with the Armed Forces in ensuring continuous flow of activities in the University, is yet another reason for this writing.
While the Vice Chancellor, the University community and indeed the entire citizenry wallow in this moment of victory, I wish to say that: something good could still come from this troubled state. Congratulations to you all in the University of Maiduguri.