Fighting Fires: Other States Can Learn from Anambra (OPINION)
Both the Federal Government and all the states in Nigeria plus the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja have been called upon to learn from the experience of the Anambra State government in fighting fire outbreaks in a modern and effective way.
The call was made today in a press statement by the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, in the wake of a series of fire outbreaks in the country, including the one at the Old Automobile Spare Parts Market in Obosi, Idemili Local Government Area of the state at the weekend which affected 12 lock-up shops.
“This call has become necessary in consideration of the incessant fires across the country induced by the ongoing harmattan”, Commissioner Adinuba explained.
“The fire could have been more disastrous but for the timely intervention of key agencies like the Nigeria Police Force and the Anambra State Fire Service.
“Once the fire service was alerted about 1.30am by the Awada Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr Tony Adeyi, the firemen responded promptly and robustly.
“They were joined by not only the police but also agencies like the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency and Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra (OCHA) Brigade to ensure that goods and shops were not looted.
“The Anambra State government appreciates the cooperation of the crowd which gathered at the scene and notes that the crowd cheered officers of the relevant agencies for their gallant action.
“It is self-evident that the new conditions of service and operational steps taken by the Anambra State government to effectively and efficiently fight fires in the state are working very well.
“Following the fuel tanker accident of Wednesday, October 3, 2019, on the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway which resulted in the destruction of some assets in Onitsha and even loss of life, the state government decided to reorganise the fire service.
“It increased the professional hazard allowance of firemen from a mere N10 a month to N10,000 per month.
“It appointed a highly respected military officer, Air Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi, the managing director of the fire service.
“In addition, it provided a number of fire trucks and an additional 40 vehicles last month to the service.
“Most importantly, it decided, pending approval from the state House of Assembly, to take the fire service away from the supervision of any ministry and make it autonomous, so as to accelerate its efficiency.
“Hitherto, if the agency wanted to make even regular purchases, it would have to seek permission from the permanent secretary in the supervising ministry who, in turn, would seek the approval of the commissioner and the commissioner would have to contact the Governor or Secretary to the State Government for approval.
“All this bureaucratic redtapism impedes the efficiency of the organization which, perforce, should have an excellent response time.
“The government and people of Anambra State are proud that the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has demonstrated sound leadership by identifying the loopholes in the system and tackling them accordingly.
“True leadership requires people to learn from experience and correct all errors and efficiencies, so that the system will not continue with them.
“We, therefore, urge all governments in Nigeria to learn from the Anambra State government how to effectively tackle fires, all the more so during this harmattan season.
“We assure all our people that Anambra State will continue to be the Light of the Nation.
•C. Don Adinuba is the Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Anambra State