28 September 2018
A fire that started late on Thursday night destroyed a fruit market in Kaduna Street, Port Harcourt, Rivers State reportedly causing damage worth 50m naira ($137,111).
Irate witnesses who spoke to Lagos-based TVC News said that the Fire Brigade took too long to respond to the incident. One said that “these people” will come looking for votes in 2019, but the Fire Brigade didn’t come to their aid. Another witness said that “there is no fire service in Rivers State”.
Governor Nyesom Wike visited the ruins of the market later saying: “Government will do what it is supposed to do to ensure that the traders continue to earn a living. It is unfortunate that this has happened. We will look at the immediate and remote causes and we shall also come to the aid of those who are affected by the inferno. Let me assure you that we will do what we can to resolve it.”
Wike failed to mention why the government didn’t do “what it is supposed to do” to ensure there was adequate fire and rescue services in his state. There were reports that some angry youths prevented the fire service from doing their jobs at the scene. It is unclear whether this was in reaction to their late response to the incident.
Rivers State is one of the richest in Nigeria in terms of revenue from oil. But there is little to show for the wealth in terms of benefits for the people in the state, while the three governors of the state since 1999, Peter Odili, Rotimi Amaechi and Wike have allegedly enriched themselves at the expense of the people.
Wike is called “Mr Projects” by his supporters. But it appears delivering a critical public service such as a fire brigade is not one of those “projects”.