The Onitsha Fire Incident & Anambra Govt’s Insensitive Reaction
The Igbo Renaissance Forum wishes to use this medium to commiserate with the victims and their families for the devastating loss from the unfortunate fire incident that gutted homes and businesses along with lives, on Wednesday the 16th of October, 2019.
We also would want to state without equivocation that the hurriedly issued Press Statement by the Anambra state government’s spokesperson is *GROSSLY OUT OF ORDER* and leaves much to be desired.
We would like to point out our reasons for having this opinion.
1. Why would the statement seek to play down on the magnitude of casualties and devastation by insinuating with a certain level of finality that only a baby and mother lost their lives in the incident without leaving room for more reports coming in from the developing story?
It is clearly a sign of mischievousness on the part of the writer to make light such a grave incident.
2. The writer of such sensitive release should have dwelt on calming frayed and sorrowing nerves, while stating clearly and convincingly that the remote and immediate causes would be investigated thoroughly without bringing in any any partisan hues.
3. It’s condescending for the writer to start eulogizing the men of the Anambra state fire service and with unnecessary emphasis on their new equipment, while still on the same hand stating rather glibly that “… for some reason however, they were unable to quench the inferno”.
This is outrightly INSENSITIVE!
4. The patronizing writer in trying to cover up the inefficiency and inadequacies of the state government turned around and pushed the blame to the masses by accusing them of stopping other fire trucks and one from neighbouring Delta state.
5. In a classic, uncoordinated and unorganized, knee jerk manner, there is a hurried invitation of those who are affected by the fire in the same Press Statement.
Is it that the government of Anambra state is dead to the pains of its people?
What would have been apt was for the state government to express and show commitment to investigating the matter and giving hope to victims and the state at large, while firmly stating that efforts would be intensified to ascertain those who were affected by the ugly incident and how to interface with them.
To ask that the affected individuals congregate at Ikpeazu Square, “…to see how the Anambra State Government can assist them”, even before investigations and enquiries is absurd and shocking.
Directing those affected by the ugly incident to start gathering under the sun at Ikpezu Square on Friday the 18th of October without any concrete plan is grossly insensitive and unacceptable.
We of the IGBO RENAISSANCE FORUM would want to state categorically that the handlers of the Governor who quickly put out that unfortunate Press Statement need to be called to the table and chastised properly.
There are things that should never be approached with a political lens, and this is one of them.
1. That the setting up of the panel of enquiry be done immediately, and that there shouldn’t be any political play involved.
2. That the investigations are non exclusive of every perceivable angle.
3. That the actual figures of the casualties and damaged properties be made public.
3. That immediate evacuation and clearing of the affected areas be embarked upon to avoid negative environmental issues.
4. That there should be a deep inquest into the failure of the Fire Service to take care of the inferno even as they claim to have arrived on time at the scene. (We need to know the reasons).
It is important to note at this juncture that we are certainly going to be watching this incident and the developing issues very closely and would not hesitate to call out anyone who is found culpable in any way.
Finally, we are advising the government of Anambra state to ensure that there is adequate provision of fire fighting facilities within the state to raise the capacity of the Fire service to be able to take care of such occurrences in future.
Nze Ugo-Akpe Onwuka (Oyi)
International Coordinator – Igbo Renaissance Forum