•Disrupts exams, sends 3500 students, staff out of Atani campus
By SAM OTTI
Flood came like a thief in the night of Saturday, September 29, and unleashed its fury on residents of Atani community and other towns in Anambra State. Surging waters broke through the banks of River Niger into their homes, wreaking incalculable havoc on public and private property. The furious flood swept through the Atani Campus of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko (OkoPoly), sacking 3,000 students and 500 staff from of the campus, barely two weeks to their examination.
Displaced students, who lamented their fate, told this reporter that the flood came with such inexorable force that left no standing space in the area. According to them, they watched helplessly as various academic documents were washed away.
Unable to contain the situation, the management of the institution hurriedly announced the indefinite closure of the campus on Tuesday, October 2, few weeks to the commencement of the first semester examination.
Daily Sun gathered that the situation on the campus was quite critical, as the entire administrative block, 15 classroom blocks and 10 staff offices were submerged. With no means of transportation, victims were ferried to safe locations in local canoes.
Although the campus had no hostel facility for students, those living in off-campus structures counted more losses, as their belongings went with the roaring flood. Public Relations Officer of the school, Obini Onuchukwu, who confirmed the incident, said three coaster buses were immediately dispatched from the main campus in Oko to evacuate students and staff from the affected campus.
He said the institution was still recovering from similar incident that happened some weeks ago when the relentless flood returned a second time and left the institution in ruins. Although details of the damage were sketchy, as most of the affected areas remain inaccessible, Onuchukwu said the rampaging flood destroyed several computers, generating sets, office electrical gadgets and valuable documents.
He said 10 programmes were running at the Atani Campus before the unfortunate incident, even as he expressed fears that the monumental damage recorded would retard the pace of progress set in the institution. “The situation is quite critical. We have lost our classrooms to the flood. Because of the situation, reptiles have invaded the school premises.
Our staff and students are on the run for their lives. Vital documents have been lost. Up till now, we have not received any relief assistance from any quarter. We are struggling to manage the crisis. We are currently documenting the visuals of this disaster,” he said. The rector, Prof. Godwin Onu, said the management was constrained to close down the campus to forestall any threat to life and property posed by the flood. Although the rector expressed concerns that the abrupt closure would adversely affect the academic calendar of the polytechnic, he said it was a precautionary measure taken to evade an imminent health crisis.
According to Onu, “the examination is to commence in two weeks time and the institution at Atani Campus is closed to allow the flood give way. We are desperately in need of relief aids to enable us tidy up the environment as soon as the flood gives way and also to recover from the colossal loss. The institution has lost up to half a billion naira in the disaster.”
He called on the state and federal government, organizations and individuals to assist the polytechnic in managing the crisis triggered by the unfortunate incident. He said that the institution was yet to get any assistance from any quarter over the disaster, noting that the students of the campus might be compelled to return to the main campus at Oko to sit for the examination until normalcy returns.