Mr. Omame says the same problems that led to the protest are still in place.
Almost four months after President Goodluck Jonathan announced that the Federal Government had released N20 million for the drilling of boreholes at the Nasarawa State University to address the acute water shortage on campus, the President is yet to keep his promise, the president of the university Students Union Government, Rabiu Omame, has told PREMIUM TIMES.
President Jonathan, through his special assistant on student affairs, Jude Imagwe, had announced, March 4, the approval of N20 million for the drilling of boreholes in the school, owned by the Nasarawa State government.
The president made the promise on March 4 after two students of the university were killed while they and their colleagues were protesting the lack of potable water and electricity on campus.
Mr. Imagwe, who presented the letter of approval for the boreholes to the then Vice Chancellor of the University, Shamsudeen Amali, when he led other student union bodies to the school, quoted Mr. Jonathan as saying the gesture was aimed at enhancing availability of water as well as reduce the plight of students, which led to the deadly protest.
But in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Student Leader Omame said the students were yet to see any sign of the boreholes promised by the president.
He also said almost four months since the protest, the absence of potable water that caused the protest was still prevalent in the school.
“I don’t know whether the money was made available because there is nothing to show to that effect yet,” Mr. Omame said.
Mr. Imagwe and the spokespersons to the president, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe, could not be reached Saturday for details on the release of funds for the borehole project.
The student leader, Mr. Omame, also insisted that soldiers were responsible for the killing of two students of the institution during the February protest.
He recalled that the students were protesting the scarcity of water on their campus and in Keffi Town where the school is located, before the two were killed.
He said although he was not around to lead the protest, the reports he got from students who led and participated showed that the protest was going on peacefully until soldiers stormed the scene and started firing at the students.
“The protest went violent when the military men came to the scene and started behaving as if they were at the war front,” Mr. Omame said.
The Nigerian Army has denied its officers were responsible for the killings.
“Soldiers were not deployed and couldn’t have carried out the shooting. Our men were on patrol duty at Keffi,” Ibahim Attahiru, the army spokesman, said in February.
Debunking the assertion by the Nigeria Army that some arms were recovered from the protesters by officers of the Nigeria Police, Mr. Omame challenged the security forces to produce the arms and the students from whom they were recovered.
“I don’t agree with that assertion. If truly they found students with arms then they should be able to show the arms and the students holding it. And if they can produce the arms then, where are the students?” he said. “Because, there is no way a military man or police officer will seize a gun from a student and allow the student to go free.”
Mr. Omame also said the union, in collaboration with the National Association of Nigeria Students, has petitioned the state government and also staged a protest at the Defence Headquarters, Ministry of Justice, and National Assembly in order to bring the killers to book.
“We were also invited to the National Assembly to interact with the House committee on Army and national security to make our position known and we were promised that the killers would be brought to book to face the wrath of the law,” he said.
He said that apart from plans to name the institution’s students’ garden after the victims, the union was also seeking permission from the school’s management to declare February 25 an annual lecture free day in honour of those who died on that day in pursuit of basic amenities for the entire university community.
The student leader also commented on the new acting vice chancellor appointed for the university after the sack of Shamsudeen Amali by the state governor, Tanko Al-Makura,
“Well, so far so good; although, you cannot judge a book by its cover. His efforts so far is commendable; he has been able to achieve a lot in this short time. He promised us that the welfare of students will be his utmost priority,” the union leader said of the new vice chancellor, Aminu Mukailu.
Mr. Omame added that the new VC told the students that the governor had given approval for the installation of two power generating sets in the student hostels, purchase of two additional water tankers, drilling of boreholes and provision of one 30-seater bus for students’ transport.
He called for compensation for the families of the two students. He also promised that the students would remain law-abiding and not take laws into their hands. He admonished students of higher institutions in Nigeria never to take laws into their hands.
“If they have any grievance, they should channel it through our (student union) various offices. They should have confidence in the Student Union Government because we were elected to serve them,” he said.