25 February 2013

Nigeria: Nasarawa Varsity Students Protest Against Perennial Water Crisis

Lafia — For the first time since 2011 when students of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) blocked major roads in the ancient town in protest against the administration of then Aliyu Akwe Doma for failing to provide water, thousands of students, some of them new entrants, poured out into the roads this morning, and are protesting against Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura's administration's inability to provide water for them.

Water stopped running in Keffi for close to two weeks now, but the management of the state water board blamed the development on low electricity shedding from Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as the Mada water treatment plant in Akwanga - which serves Keffi, Akwanga and other areas along Keffi-Akwanga Road - depends only on public power supply.

Students of the university - both the ones who stay on campus, and the ones who live off campus especially at the students' village called Angwan Lambu - have been compelled to rely on sachet water otherwise called "Pure Water" for all domestic use. The topography of Keffi does not allow for boreholes and surface wells.

The students decided they will not bear this anymore, and by about 7:30 this morning while classes were about to commence, including new entrants who a what are yet to receive their matriculation, poured out unto major roads including Keffi-Akwanga and Keffi-Abuja Express Road, in the protest which is still ongoing inspite of police presence.

They plucked down fresh leaves which they waved along as they raised chants of "No Water, No Road. They also cut down large branches of trees and barricaded the roads at various points, just they set burn fires in what has disrupted traffic along the roads for hours now.

They students chanted about how they have had to bear the situation, but how the water crisis became unbearable for them, and insisted that Governor Al-Makura himself must drive to that point to address them before they can reopen the roads.

At about 8:30am, the Registrar of the school, Mamman Dalhatu drove to the scene of the protest in company of the Chief Security Officer, John Aboh, to address the student to calm down. But angry protesting students shouted continually at him, and showed him the way out of their sight.

Inquiries also showed that students maintained their hold on the school gate, and prevented staffs from reporting for work for the day.

Efforts to reach the Students' Union Government (SUG) president of the school, Comrade Rabiu Omame Tijani on phone for comments at this time have been unsuccessful as his phone has continually rang without an answer. But other students spoken to say they resolved to take their fate in their hands to get water flowing into Keffi again.

Al-Makura inherited a situation where water did not run in Keffi, as a result of which his predecessor's administration was widely protested against, by the students. Al-Makura tried to address the problem with success at various points, but one or two problems including flooding and now the low power shedding, have always dragged the success into failure, now compelling students to teach him the same lesson they taught Doma.

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