Kwara market fire: Tragedy attracting politicians’ ‘heart of gold’
As the 2023 elections approach, the recent fire incident at Alanamu Market, Ilorin, Kwara State shows how politicians jostle to outshine one another in rendering assistance to the victims of the disaster, TUNDE OYEKOLA reports:
Nothing is succinctly enough to describe the state of Alanamu market, Ilorin after the fire outbreak that destroyed goods worth millions of naira than the Yoruba adage that says “Whatever redeemable evil that befalls a king will add glamour to his wealth (Ile Oba t’ojo, ewa lo bukun).”
Alanamu market in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State was engulfed by fire in the midnight of Monday, July 25, 2022 after the traders in the market have returned to their respective homes after the close of business. The fire destroyed goods worth several millions of naira before the state fire service succeeded in curtailing the inferno from spreading to about one hundred lock up shops in the market.
Before the recent fire incident in Alanamu market, several fire incidents had been witnessed in markets across the state in the last two years. These included Ipata foodstuff market, Ilorin; Omu-Aran market; Ipata ram market, Ilorin; Bode-Saadu market in Moro Local Government Area; Ipata Oloje Spare parts market, Ilorin; Owode market in Offa Local Government Area; Oro township market in Irepodun Local Government Area and Baboko new market, Ilorin, but none of the afore-mentioned markets attracted the attention of politicians like the Alanamu market.
The Iyaloja of Alanamu market, Alhaja Sikira Abdullahi-Dalegan, who gave account of the fire incident said, “The market has closed for the day and all of us were asleep. At about 3am, I think there was a power surge which caused high voltage. Then a motorcycle rider, who was passing by, raised the alarm at about 4.30am and we all rushed to the scene. People came to our aid, we even called the governor and the fire service and the fire was put out.”
Abdullahi-Dalegan, who said she had been in the market for more than four decades, stated that 24 shops were affected, 12 in the front row and another 12 at the back.
While disclosing that items, which included industrial and ordinary sewing machines, provisions, poultry products such as eggs, chicken and turkey, juice, beverages as well as herbal products were destroyed in the current inferno, she stated that the inferno was the second in the market, after the one that occurred about 20 years ago.
“We thank God that there was no loss of life despite the destruction of goods worth millions of naira,” the Iyaloja said.
The Kwara State Fire Service said it did everything to prevent the fire from consuming all the shops in the market.
According to Hassan Adekunle, head of Media and Publicity of the Kwara State Fire Service, “Firemen did everything possible to immediately stop the spread of the burning fire to the other shops, and subsequently eliminated the fire. An electric power surge, based on report, was suspected to be the cause of the fire outbreak. The estimated property saved was N865.5m and the estimated property lost was N9.6m.”
The Iyaloja said many people had visited the market to commiserate with the traders, among whom were Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Alhaji Yaman Abdullah; PDP National Legal Adviser, Alhaji Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN); the Turaki of Ilorin and APC Senatorial candidate for Kwara Central, Alhaji Saliu Mustapha; PDP senatorial candidate for Kwara Central, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi.
Muktar Shagaya and Ibrahim Ajia are APC and PDP House of Representatives candidate respectively for Ilorin West/Asa Federal constituency in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
Iyaloja, who confirmed that many people including some politicians had visited the market to commiserate with them on the fire incident, stated, “Yes, some people have come to sympathise with us on the fire incident. Part of the assistance being rendered is the rebuilding of the shops. The government is assisting us to rebuild the affected shops.”
Governor Abdulrazaq, who visited the market twice within one week of the incident donated amount ranging from N250,000 to N2.5m to the victims, while Mustapha promised to rebuild all the burnt shops in the market and donated N200,000 each to shop owners in the market.
Abdullahi donated N2.5m to assist the traders, while Ajia donated a giant-sized fire extinguisher to the market. Shagaya gave cash assistance of N1m to the affected traders in the market.
The Balogun Alanamu of Ilorin, Dr Usman Abubakar-Jos, who is the community head of the area, also told The PUNCH correspondent that many people, including the governor and some politicians, had visited the burnt market and promised some assistance to the victims of the fire disaster.
Abubakar-Jos thanked all the people who commiserated with the victims of the disaster and prayed Allah to reward them abundantly.
One of the victims, Abdullahi Muse, a fashion designer who lost some industrial sewing machines to the fire disaster, prayed for the governor after receiving N2.5m as a beneficiary of the relief funds disbursed to victims of the fire incident.
Meanwhile, AbdulRazaq had on the day of the incident visited the palace of Abubakar-Jos to commiserate with the community over the fire incident that affected parts of the market.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, the governor said he was proud of the swift response of the state Fire Service to bring the inferno under control; adding that the State Emergency Management Agency had also visited the area to ascertain the level of damage.
“We have come to sympathise with Balogun Alanamu and the victims of the fire disaster. We also commiserate with Abubakar-Jos on the death of two of his people, both of which occurred last night.
“It was a great loss of property and livelihood, though we thank God that no life was lost to the inferno. We were able to respond quickly. Officials of the state Fire Service were here on time to control it, though we regret what had been destroyed before they came. SEMA has also come for enumeration. We will ensure that the government provides relief packages for victims to bounce back,” AbdulRazaq said.
Abubakar-Jos, who conducted the governor round the market, appreciated him for his swift response to the unfortunate incident.
He commended the passion of the administration for the welfare of the people of Alanamu and its environs.
The Balogun commended the government for adequately providing for the operational needs of the State Fire Service, without which he said the fire would have wreaked greater damage.
“We thank the governor for your prompt response to our plight. It shows that our community has capable representatives in your team,” he said.
He prayed Allah to grant the governor a successful tenure and re-election next year.
One of the political gladiators in the state, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, when he visited the market said, “As you can see since the incident of Alanamu market happened, politicians that we have never seen before have been falling over themselves to show their generosity to the people.
“But during the COVID-19 pandemic we didn’t see them. We were here after the rainstorm that blew peoples’ roofs away, they didn’t see that. So, I can understand why politicians will think that it is necessary for them to play politics with people’s lives.”
Meanwhile, the Director of Kwara State Fire Service, Prince Falade Olumuyiwa, urged the general public, especially the market people to be more safety conscious.
He advised them against charging mobile devices without supervision and other practices of illegal electrical connections in various shops, offices, and homes. These practices, according to Olumuyiwa, could endanger lives and property.
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