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Pain, agony over burnt hostel

By Seye Olumide, Isaac Taiwo and Perpetua Uzowuru   |   19 December 2009   |   3:28 am  

At this time of the year, there used to be a beehive of activities at the hostel, especially after office hours and lecture periods like other school campuses in the country.

But the expectation of having a blissful festival during the Christmas and New Year celebrations was aborted when a mid-day fire disaster razed the hostel last week.

The harsh harmattan weather and other inflammable objects in the female hostel did not help matters as the fire spread rapidly and destroyed property worth millions of naira.

Most of the victims who had gone for lecture when the inferno started, could not hold their emotions, as they all crying and wailing for their lost items.

While some were lamenting over the lost of their certificates and other vital documents others could not believe their eyes as they watch the building goes up in flame with their valuables.

One of the female students, Fatimo Aliyu, who was informed while in the lecture room that the hostel was on fire started shouting, ‘My money! My money! My N45, 000.00. But, there was nothing anybody could do to salvage the situation.

Another one who ran to the scene after being told about the disaster simply held her head with her two hands in disbelief, saying to someone standing beside her: “I went to market yesterday to buy some items. What can I do now?”

For Taibatu Muhammed, the inferno was a December disaster that had brought sorrow, not only to the affected students but also the entire college.

Although she lost some items, her joy was that none of the students lost their lives like the inferno that happened in one of the female hostel in an institution in Ogun state sometimes ago when three friends got roasted.

Standing and looking at the black thick smoke from the hostel billowing into the sky, Taibatu said: “This is a December disaster. But thanks be to God there was no casualty”.

Narrating how the incident occurred, an eyewitness told The Guardian the inferno was caused by power surge as a result of faulty electrical cable.

It could not be immediately ascertain whether the explosion sparked off when Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) supplied power but the cable melted at a point and exploded.

The cables were said to have been hurriedly put together by emergency electricians whom The Guardian learnt were also students of the college.

One of the students who did not want her mentioned blamed the disaster on the school authorities’ failure to live up to its responsibilities.

According to her, “The failure of the state government to supply electricity to the college was the cause of the inferno that razed down the female hostel and property worth millions of naira.

“When the situation was becoming too critical for us to stay in an hostel without electricity despite our proximity to PHCN in the next compound, some male students decided to help connect the wire. The job must have been badly done and this is the consequence we face.”

She lamented the situation and pleaded with the state and the school authorities to compensate those students whose valuables were destroyed in the disaster.

However, another female student, Laraba, commended the efforts of the Provost (Dr.) Bakari Aliyu, whom she said shared tears when he saw the rate of destruction.

Another female student said she lost all her belongings and that none of the affected students was able to pick even a pin from their rooms.

“With what you have seen, how can you expect us to save our belonging from the fire?” she asked.

The lady who was wore navy blue jean and a T- shirt, added: “Apart from this trouser and T- shirt, I am putting on now, I don’t have any other thing to call my own now. My three boxes and a Ghana-must-go bag filled with wears were all burnt to ashes.

“What I am telling you now applies to all the female students in the hostel. None of us can boast of anything other than what we are putting on now. Our credentials and other relevant documents as well as lecture notes and text books are gone.”

The chairman, College of Agriculture Governing Council Board, Mr. Joseph Adda Magaji, said the State Emergency Relief Material Agency, concluded plans to come to the aid of the students.

He added that developers would be deplored by the state as a matter of urgency to map out befitting hostel accommodation for the school.

“We have resolved there is need for all the students to be accommodated in the school”

Officials of the Jalingo branch of the PHCN, who preferred anonymity, however blamed the students for embarking on illegal connection, saying such act was capable of destroying lives.

A source from PHCN who pleaded anonymity said the cables in the hostel were of inferior quality and that it would have been better if quality cables were used for effective job.

 



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