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Nigerian students mourn colleagues in ATBU

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The collapsed bridge at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, (ATBU), Bauchi State.

The sad incident, which claimed four lives at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, with some other students missing, has been described as the collapse of the metaphorical bridge linking Nigerian youths to their future.

Avoidable development has again revealed the level of poor infrastructure in Nigerian universities.

The unfortunate incident occurred on Monday, August 5, 2019, when the metallic bridge linking the Gubi campus of the university collapsed amidst heavy downpour in the state.

The affected students were returning to their hostels after a night class when the bridge linking one of the hostels to the lecture rooms collapsed.

According to reports, there were about 20 students on the bridge when it caved in. While four were certified dead at that time, others were missing and several others injured.

The most painful part of the incident was the fact that it could have been avoided had the management of the school listened to the students’ plea on the deplorable condition of the bridge earlier.

A student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Showunmi Rex, who was saddened by the development, said it was pathetic for the future and leaders of the nation to go down in that manner due to negligence.

According to him, “it is a metaphor for what we see in this part of the world, where a bridge, which is supposed to link young people to the future collapses. It is disappointing on the part of the leaders irrespective of the magnitude of their position that they cannot account for people kept in their custody. This is a true reflection of what goes on in society. The big question is how much blood will be spilled based on carelessness before we start becoming responsible for what we ought to do, knowing fully well that there are grave implications if we leave them undone.

“Imagine, what has happened to the dreams and aspirations of the dead. This is a wake-up call for every Nigerian leader in any position to be proactive in their style of leadership and not reactive. Let us not wait until something terrible happens before we take precautions and start mourning. That is what happens in this country, we mourn them and move on until another metaphorical bridge collapses before we come to seek solutions. Societies don’t move forward in that way,” Rex stated.

Some other students who commiserated with the families of the deceased had while advising the university administrators to ensure regular infrastructural upgrade in schools, blamed the students union government of ATBU for not raising alarm at the deplorable state of the bridge.

For the Public Relations Officer of Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU), Comrade Olowu Oluwatobiloba, “Every school management must ensure adequate provision of infrastructure in the interest of students. The students’ union leaders on their part should regularly seek the wellbeing of students. For every successful and peaceful school, there are people championing it behind the scene. They ought to have a good rapport with the management of the school regarding the wellbeing of students.”

Also, the Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Association of Science Students (NASS), LASU, Comrade Bello Oluwasegun, advised university administrators to regularly check and maintain their schools’ facilities, as well as ensure favourable security measures to secure lives and properties of their students.

To the families of the deceased, he said: “I feel so bad about this incident because it is a loss of great intellectual minds. May tehir souls rest in peace. May God comfort their families and relatives.”

Meanwhile, ATBU students have blamed the incident on the laxity of the school management, as they have earlier pleaded with them to construct a befitting bridge or at least renovate the existing one. It was also learned that the collapsed bridge was built by an ex-student of the school.

The vice-chancellor of the school, Muhammad Abdullazeez, while confirming the incident said, “For now, we learned that while the students were trying to return to their hostel in the midst of the rain last night, the connecting bridge between their reading area and their hostel collapsed and the four students drowned. While the injured are currently receiving treatment at the University Medical Center, the rescue operations are currently ongoing to recover bodies of those missing.”


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