PAUL OMOKUVIE, Bauchi
The Vice-Chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Professor Muhammad Abdulazeez, has disclosed that no student is missing following the collapse of a bridge in the institution.
This is contrary to reports in some media outlets that students were still missing.
A metal bridge linking the student hostel and the lecture halls collapsed on Monday night at about 11.45pm following a downpour leading to the death of four students. Seven others were reported injured.
Abdullazeez, disclosed this when he received the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who paid a condolence visit to the Gubi campus of the institution on Wednesday.
Receiving the governor who was represented by the Speaker of the State Assembly, Abubakar Sulieman, in company with the SSG, Chief of Staff, and some members of the state Assembly and other top government officials, the VC explained that the management of the university later found out that only three students died in the incident and not four.
The VC who was in company with the principal and management staff to receive the governor, said that the students had earlier written to the management requesting for a footpath from the hostel to the lecture halls as the main road was very far.
He said: “The management felt that it was necessary to construct a metal bridge so that at a time, it would carry between ten and 15 people at a time. This was not meant for static loads but for dynamic loads, that means, you don’t stand on it, you just pass.
“From the report we received from some of the students, when the rain had stopped falling and the students were about crossing, they found the scene excellent for them to take selfies.
So they started from two and before you could realise, there were more than 30 students on the bridge standing, and that bridge was not meant for people to stand.
“Some of the students could not pass and had to also stand, and the bridge suddenly collapsed and that was how we lost three students. And there were some rumours that some students were missing, as at today; as of now, we don’t have any student missing.
“Based on our records, no student is missing; for now, we have confirmed three students dead; two from Kogi State and one from Benue State, two females and a male and they are all from Business Education and Management Studies.”
The VC said that the university management has constituted an investigation committee to find out the remote cause and the possible way to handle the whole situation.
He thanked the state government and security agencies for being proactive in handling the incident.
In his speech during the visit, the governor, commiserated with the families of the deceased, the management and entire students of the institution on the unfortunate incident.
The governor who was in company with top government officials and heads of security agencies in the state, was represented by the speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman.
He said his visit was to assess the areas that required urgent attention, pledging the state government’s immediate intervention in the collapsed bridge.
He described the incident as “seriously sad” and stated that the students’ response which led to a protest and destruction of some school property as “uncalled for.”
“The unfortunate thing was the reaction of the students who are blaming the management or the VC about the loss. All of us know that it was as a result of a natural disaster, so I see no reason why the students should protest about it but I am sure the management is on top of the situation.
“We intended to come here yesterday (Tuesday), but as we were preparing to come, we learnt that the students were protesting and we were advised that it was not safe for us to come here and that was why we couldn’t come,” the governor stated.
Mohammed said that he met the student union and they gave the government some demands which include the construction of a bridge.
He said that although the school is a federal institution, the government would do something about it, pointing out that “both the ATBU and the state government are partners in progress and we must see how we can improve the state.