Water Kills, Even Varsity Students
AFRO musician Fela sang “water e no get enemy”, eulogising the importance of water, but accessing water can produce enemies, and its availability cannot be taken for granted.
The death of four students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, NSUK, while protesting scarcity of water and epileptic power supply is significant and equally symbolic in these regards. Water is admittedly important, yet governments do the minimal about providing it, even as it is accepted that safe drinking water would reduce diseases tremendously.
What are the dimensions of the incident in Keffi? While many are interested in who killed the students, which is very important, a wider search would include developing modern institutions like universities without provisions of the basic infrastructure – electricity and water – to support their existence.
Universities are supposed to be centres of modernity, leading communities within the larger society, with facilities to enhance learning and provide knowledge for the advancement of living. None of our universities meets these expectations and the authorities are busy setting up “new” universities that are not modern.
Last May, the University of Ibadan shut down to improve its electricity and water supply. The 65-year-old university found its facilities inadequate for its burgeoning population. Can one say the same of the 11-year-old NSUK, whose ambitious vision is, “To be a world class centre of excellence for the development of the individual and the society”? If the authorities were sincere, would a world class centre of excellence not have basic infrastructure 11 years into its existence?
Collapse of infrastructure in universities exposes in bolder prints Nigeria’s negligence of the basic strands of modern living. Our centres of learning are distracted with issues that are too basic to be contemplated. Water, ordinary water, and electricity that one needs to connect to opportunities, local as well as global, are addressed with excuses.
After the shooting in NSUK, slight, if momentary, improvements in its facilities, the blame games, the unflinching condemnations of the incident by civil society groups, all would be forgotten.
Governments and their institutions remain under the illusion that water and electricity are luxuries for the consumption of a privileged few. If providing facilities for small communities like university is such a challenge, what happens to the entire country? Water and electricity are among essentials for sustainable engagement with modern living.
The way governments work, they could set out to improve facilities in schools, forgetting that their graduates would soon join a larger society without infrastructure. It would be futile if we make electricity and water the preserve of university communities to forestall students’ protests.
Governments keep failing to care about Nigerians, NSUK is merely another proof.