- Parents of 20 students who died in Kano accident speak
- Their last moments, by schoolmates
PAUL ORUDE, Bauchi
Days after 20 students and two teachers of Government Day Secondary School, Misau, Bauchi State, perished in a tragic autocrash, parents and friends of the deceased are gripped by grief as the sound of mourning is still being heard in the homes of the bereaved.
The students and three of their teachers, namely, Mohammed Mohammed, Aishatu Jarwa and Inuwa Mohammed, were travelling to Kano State for an excursion last Tuesday, when the commercial bus they boarded had a head on collision with a trailer at Gaya village.
The driver of the commercial vehicle, Ahmed Abdu, died in the incident but a student, Alkassim Ibrahim and a teacher, Inuwa Mohammed survived.
Sunday Sun learnt that Alkassim, an SSS 3 Science student, has been in coma because of the severe head injuries he sustained. His right hand was also fractured in the accident while the condition of his Physics teacher, Inuwa, appeared to be stable. Both are currently receiving treatment at the Mallam Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano.
Our correspondent who visited in Misau, a dusty town that lies about 140 kilometres from Bauchi, the state capital, came with reports on the touching stories told about the late dead students by their grief stricken parents and other members of the community.
Agony of parents and friends of the deceased students
Speaking with Sunday Sun in Misau, on Thursday, parents of the students described their deaths as the saddest day of their lives.
Most of the families of the deceased, including the driver lived in the part of Misau called Kukedi, which is a stone throw from the school. In one of the mud houses in Kukedi, lives Aishatu Mohammed, 38, whose daughter, Fatima Adamu, 18, was among the students that died in the tragic accident.
Aishatu, who has not stopped crying since the painful death of her daughter, recalled the last moments she had with Fatima before she embarked on the tragic journey.
Walking slowly from the inner compound to the frontage, the bereaved mother appeared to be carrying the whole world on her head.
As she bowed her head to speak, her bottled emotions welled up and burst as he sobbed briefly before regaining composure.
“This woman is in agony over the loss of a promising child,” said a neighbour as Aishatu approached.
After calming down, Aishatu said: “Fatima was excited and eager to go for the excursion. Her younger brother Ahmed, a tailor who was close to her wanted to make her happy as he always did, and gave her the N1000 needed for registration.
“Fatima asked me to give her some money to buy water on the way. I told her that I didn’t have but assured her that I would be praying for her. She left the house. She was so happy that she was among students, who would be at Arewa24 TV station and Freedom Radio Kano, to showcase their talents during the excursion.”
The grieving mother said that she was at home when news of the accident came to her, barely five hours after Fatima left the house.
“When I heard that Fatima and the other students and their teachers were involved in an accident, I started praying and hoping that nothing bad happened to her because she was a well behaved girl and brilliant,” Aishatu said.
As soon as it was confirmed that Fatima was among the dead, Aishatu said her world almost came crashing.
“I have been crying since then, but I must accept it as the will of God,” she said.
For Mohammed Abass Abdullahi, a prominent Misau-based businessman who sells mattresses, tragedies visited his household twice in six days. His son, Abubakar, 17, was among the students selected for the ill-fated trip to Kano.
He told Sunday Sun: “We prayed together in the morning and he came to beg me to allow him travel as he was among those selected and I agreed. Abubakar used to help me after school. I was in the shop when the news reached me that Abubakar was dead. Six days ago, my daughter was operated upon and she died, leaving behind two children. I was still receiving sympathisers and praying for the repose of her soul when the news of the death of my son reached me. Abubakar was a good boy. Everybody knew him as a reliable child. Whenever he saw something that needed to be done, you didn’t need to tell him and he would just fix it.”
The grieving father said that his late son was so responsible and focused from the tender age and by the time he turned 16 years, he was already traveling to Kano with the large sums of money, ranging from N250,000 to N500,000, to buy goods.
“I also used to engage in farming and all my children including Abubakar, were part of it. Only last year, we harvested 104 bags of wheat. He was doing well but God knows all,” he said.
Although Adamu Abubakar, another bereaved parent and a security man at the GDSS, Misau, had 13 children, he always thought that his son, Abubakar Adamu, would become successful in life.
“You know, nobody knows tomorrow. I never even thought he was going to die so young,” Adamu said.
He said that Abubakar was so obedient and dedicated that he was always happy and proud of the youngster.
“That morning before he travelled, we spoke like we always did and he told me that he would like to join any of the security forces in the country. He told me that he would like to go to the university and get a degree before joining either the army or police. He always said he would join the security forces but at a higher level,” the father recounted their last conversation before the boy’s death.
The late Nai’ma’s father was not at home when our correspondent visited his house. In front of his house were several people who sat on a mat. They had come to sympathise with the family. Among them was Isah, whom Nai’ma was betrothed to. Nai’ma, 19, and Isa planned to marry immediately after she finished writing her May/June Ordinary Level examination this year.
“Isa just left here” said Naíma’s elder brother, Sani Ado, who had been receiving condolences on behalf of his father, who himself went to see off some people who came to sympathise with him. His wife was not in the mood to talk about her daughter’s death, when Sunday Sun approached her.
“I was in my school when the news reached me,” said the late Naíma’s brother, Sani Ado, a teacher at Government Science Secondary School, Misau.
“I feel so sad about my sister’s death. Our mother is devastated. Naíma was about to marry soon after finishing school and my father had accepted Isa’s proposal to marry my sister and they were engaged. She was the secretary of the Hausa Fasaha Club and she was fully involved in the preparations. She was up and doing to ensure that the excursion was carried out. It is sad that she died.”
Sunday Sun also spoke to Nai’ma’s childhood friend and classmate, Aishatu Salihu, 18, who couldn’t stop crying.
“I hugged her before they left and she promised to come back so we could talk but now she is not coming back,” Aishatu said in emotion-laden voice.
Nai’ma’s best friend and the headgirl of GDSS, Hauwa Mohammed, revealed that the journey was postponed three times because there was no vehicle to convey them for the excursion.
“We had to approach our emir who said he would not be able to give us a bus but he offered to give us money to hire a bus. In the end, we settled for a date and since the number of students was more than the vehicle available, we did “pick and obey.” If you picked that said ‘go’ you qualified to go on the excursion. If the card you picked said ‘stay’ you were disqualified,” Hauwa said.
The headgirl who disclosed that she felt bad that she couldn’t go to the school the morning the student contingent left for the excursion, said Nai’ma called her several times. “She wanted me to come in the morning to see her before they left. I asked Nai’ma why she was disturbing me with calls, and she replied that I should come to see her before they left. I told her that I was not feeling fine and would not be in school. She was not happy. She would have come to see me but there was no time because they were already set.
“When I saw her missed calls the next morning before their departure, I called her immediately and she told me that I should call her fiancé and talk to him, that they had a quarrel and said it was her fault. Earlier, Aishatu Aliyu also called me before they left querying why I was asking her why she was calling me frequently. I never knew that I would not be seeing them again,” Hauwa said, the pain of her loss very evident.
Respite for the injured
Alkassim Ibrahim, an SS2 Art student was gravely injured in the accident. Along with his teacher, Inuwa Mohammed, Alkassim is battling for his life at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano.
“Please don’t let my brother die,” Usman Ibrahim, a Physics teacher pleaded, adding, “I am the one that has been taking care of him and my siblings since our parents died and things have been difficult for us.”
After the accident, Alkassim and his teacher, Inuwa were rushed to General Hospital, Gaya and were later taken to Federal Medical Centre, Azare, Bauchi State, Sunday Sun learnt.
While Alkassim is in critical condition, his teacher has showed a trace of fast recovery. Both of them were later referred to Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano.
“But the problem is that we had to pay for ambulance to convey my brother to Kano,” Usman, who was visibly disappointed said.
“It was Ambassador Yunusa Yahaya, who contributed the money that was used to pay the ambulance fee before my brother could be moved to Kano. Even in such critical condition, the management of the hospital was helpless,” Usman said.
He appealed to the government and well-meaning individuals to come to the aid of his brother so that he would survive.
“The governor during his visit to Misau to sympathise with the families of the victims gave N100,000 cash to each of the families but was silent on the injured. I want to appreciate several individuals who have been assisting us, particularly Ibrahim Gambo, who donated N70,000 to my family. I appreciate all this and plead with the state government not to allow my brother to die. We need help.”
Indigenes slam FG, state government over state of road
As the people of Misau and indeed Bauchi State mourn the death of the 20 students and two of their teachers who died last Tuesday, some people in the town have called on the government to fix the roads.
The elder brother of the deceased driver, Mamman Alhaji Abdu, said if the roads are fixed, there would be fewer accidents on the highways.
“My brother has been driving for over 10 years and used to travel to Lagos, Enugu, Port Harcourt,” he said.
The bad roads have always been the challenge, some other people chipped in. Mamman said that his brother was previously driving a big 10-tyre truck but was unable to maintain it and bought the Hummer Toyota bus which was involved in the accident.
“He has been using it for over three years and used to convey people whenever he was called upon. He was a good person who never argued or fought anybody. Ask and you will be told. The entire Misau community knew him as a peace loving person. He died and left a daughter who is just 10 months old,” he said.
Some residents of Misau appealed for speedy progress on the ongoing dualisation of the Azare-Kano road.
“The Misau to Kano road is very bad, especially from Bamaina to Gaya up to Wudil in Kano. Due to this bad portion of the Misau-Kano road, drivers have to go through Azare. We appeal to the government to fix this road,” the residents pleaded.
The Village Head of Kukedi, Alhaji Baba Kura, expressed sadness that the promising students and their teachers were wasted due to bad roads.
Kura, popularly called the Maianguwan Kukedi, said: “My advice to the Federal Government is to take urgent steps to fix this road. We don’t want to hear again that an accident was caused by the state of roads. No. Something should be done fast if we are to avoid a repeat of this sad loss of our future leaders.”
He also challenged the member representing Misau/Giade, Ahmed Yerima, to see to the full recovery of the surviving victims who are still in hospital and the parents of the students that died.
“The governor came to the place and gave each of the victims’ families N100,000. We want the member representing them to do more,” Kura said. “I want to call on our leaders to remember the victims that are still in hospital fighting for their lives.”
On his part, the principal of GDSS said: “It is indeed the saddest news I have ever experienced in my life.”