August 5, 2019 was a night of sorrow for students and management of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi.(ATBU) when tragedy struck in the wee hours in the Gubi campus of the institution.
Three students of the varsity were drowned when a pedestrian bridge within the main campus of the university located in Gubi, an outskirt of Bauchi metropolis, collapsed.
The bridge, which linked the university and the hostels, was reported to have collapsed under the heavy current of the flood underneath.
Investigation carried out by the ATBU management on Wednesday revealed that three bodies were actually recovered following the collapse of the bridge due to a downpour that lasted several hours across the state after rescue operations were concluded.
The management had earlier said that 4 died in the tragic incident.
It also said no body was missing contrary to earlier claims by the students who insisted that some persons were missing.
The students were identified as Joseph Akoh Isah (100 level ) an indigene of Kogi State. Blessing Godfrey (200L) an indigene of Benue State and Salmat Aliyu Akpaojo (200 L) also an indigene of Kogi State.
Two females and a male and they were all from the department of business education and management studies.
One of the victims, Salmat had posted on her WhatsApp a status which was shared online by her friends after her death.
“My degree will not go up with me to heaven. Therefore, I will not come and kill myself over school. If I don’t know it by 11.30pm, I am resting my head peacefully on my pillow and going to sleep” she wrote
Salmat was reportedly buried in Bauchi on Thursday.
The Nation earlier reported that the incident, which occurred in the midnight, also left seven injured.
It was gathered that the tragedy occurred when some of the students were leaving the campus after reading overnight in preparation for exams.
The incident triggered a protest among the students, who blamed the tragedy on the school management for turning deaf ears to several pleas made by them on the deteriorating bridge.
The students’ union president, Naziru Mohammed, reportedly escaped being lynched by the students, who protested the death of their colleagues.
NANS, ATBU students accuse management of negligence
The National Association of Nigerian Students ( NANS) has blamed the management of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi (ATBU) for the incident which led to the death of the three students.
The National President of the Association, Comrade Danielson Gbamidele Akpan who addressed a press conference on Friday in Bauchi said that the ugly incident could have been avoided if the management of the institution had responded to several complaints regarding the deplorable condition of the bridge by the students union.
“We will start by condemning the poor relationship between the management and the students union of ATBU Bauchi. The fact revealed that the students union said that they have written letters telling the management about the state of that bridge a couple of weeks and nothing was done about it.” The NANS President said.
“The students union had to raise funds on their own to do a little welding but that did not help the situation because the downpour that happened that day and of course the students while trying to cross to their hostel were involved in the collapse, and this led to the death of very important members.” Comrade Akpan said.
According to him, “we felt that the relationship that has been broken down, the bridge, the communication gap that has been opened for a very long time, the management and the students union have to do everything possible to close it so that this can forstall future occurrence.
”The NANS President who said they observed that the bridge was not constructed strong enough to serve the purpose that was meant for, pointed out that, “we saw clearly that the bridge did not have the kind of metal it should have that can serve that purpose”.
The NANS President who said they observed that the bridge was not constructed strong enough to serve the purpose that was meant for, pointed out that, “we saw clearly that the bridge did not have the kind of metal it should have that can serve that purpose”.
NANS therefore advised the ATBU management to establish a smooth communication with the Students.
Also, a student of the Varsity,Adamu Mohammad ,( of Chemical engineering department) in a WhatsApp chat with the Nation said though the incident is a natural disaster but the fact remains that is an avoidable situation.
According to him, the truth is that the incident was a natural disaster and no one can stop a flood. As fela said “water no get enemy”, but the fact is that it was also an avoidable situation.
“As we commiserate with the family of our departed fellow students and wish the dead a peaceful rest, there are a few things that i must point out about the #ATBU gubi Campus sad incident and the Gubi campus students’ situation”
“This is Nigeria where nothing ever gets attention until something catastrophic happens”
“I have been to ATBU Gubi Campus as a student since past years and i must tell you that the level of negligence of students’ welfare is too bad and just not fair.
The basic needs of a 21st century human being are not sufficiently provided on campus.
” The hostels were designed in such a way that water will flow through the pipes for the toilets and rooms but overhead water Tanks are not provided for this. Students have to fetch water from dirty reservoirs and Tanks to a two storey building”
“Snake and scorpion bites are common cases in ATBU Gubi campus. There was a case of a student who was bitten by a snake in the bush where he went to defecate due to the bad condition of the toilets in the hostels”
“The Gubi campus Clinic is not equipped for an emergency situation, be it snake or scorpion bite, accidents and the events of the natural disaster proved this. Some of the students who actively involved in the student’s rescue and search and they know what they experienced that night”
“Many students with low emotional quotient who lost their friends will be traumatized by this event for a very long time especially the female students”
“We had a right to be angry because we(students) found Salma (may her soul rest in peace) dead in one of the farmlands that morning prior to the recorded deaths immediately after the incident.
The students union government (S.U.G ) which was suppose to be our mouth piece is dysfunctional and occupied by the school management’s functus officio stooges”
“I must pause here now, for my heart is the coffin with death departed comrades”
Mohammad blamed the management for the negligence which led to the incident urged the institution to consider welfare of the students a priority.
Another student of the varsity who spoke with The Nation in confidence, said despite calls put across to the management on the deteriorating bridge , no action was taken.
“We have alerted the school authorities over the weak bridge and the poor road network leading to the university, but no action was taken” She stated.
But the university have blamed the tragic incident on selfies by students.
The ATBU Vice-Chancellor, Muhammad Abdullazeez, had said “the reports its received from some of the students were that when the rain had stopped and the students were about crossing, they found the scene excellent for them to take selfies.”
Abdulazeez revealed this when he receive Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, who paid him a condolence visit on Wednesday.
“So they started from two and before you could realise it, there were more than 30 students on the bridge standing, and that bridge was not meant for people to stand” He said.
Meanwhile, the state government has pledged immediate intervention on the collapsed of bridge at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi.
The State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed gave the assurance on Wednesday when he led top government officials and Heads of Security Agencies in the state on a condolence visit to the management of the university.
The Governor, who spoke through the Speaker, State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abubakar Sulaiman said the visit is to assess the areas that required urgent attention.
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) together with the Nigerian Army, have also offered to construct another bridge at any location in the university and access road in another location of the University.
The Governing council of ATBU have also constituted a seven man committee to carry out through investigation on the causes of the incident and recommend ways to improve safety on the campuses.
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the council, Nimota Akanbi disclosed this on Friday.
ATBU tragedy a wake up call to all Academic institutions to prioritize the welfare of students” Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has however warned Governing Councils and Management of Academic institutions of learning to place priority on the welfare of their students.
The warning followed the death of three students at the Gubi campus of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi.
The president gave the directive through a Presidential Assessment Committee which visited ATBU, Bauchi, to assess the collapsed
pedestrian bridge on Friday .
The committee had on the spot assessment of the scene of the incident.
Officials from the ministry including the University Technical Team were present to carry out physical measurement and assessment.
The committee was led by Permanent Secretary of the federalministry of Education, Architect Sunny Echono, accompanied by TETFund Executive Secretary, Professor Elias Bogoro, among other members.
Addressing the Pro chancellor Ambassador, Nomita Akanbi, the Vice Chancellor Professor Muhammad Abdulazeez, Echono conveyed the condolence message from the President saying that he was deeply touched by the unfortunate incident that led to the loss of lives.
He said the president has given firm directive that the tragic incident that occurred at the Gubi campus should be a wakeup call for all academic institutions.
“Mr. President was deeply touched and has given firm directive that this (what happened at ATBU) is a wakeup call for all of us in the education sector. He sent the message across to all theGoverning Councils, Vice Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of our polytechnics, and provosts of Colleges of Education to henceforth ensure that they prioritised the safety and welfare of our students” He stated.
He added the message cut across to all the Governing Councils, Vice Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of our polytechnics, and provosts of Colleges of Education in all institutions.
Echono assured that the Committee would make recommendations to the President in order to address the immediate and projected needs of the University Community.