On Sunday 15th March, 2020, around 9am, an explosion rocked Lagos and caused a lot of disaster. This very explosion happened at Abule-Ado area, near Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State. It was caused by a leaking NNPC gas pipeline, through which enormous quantities of gas were escaping. However, NNPC claimed that the explosion was ignited by a truck that rammed into gas cylinders packed at a gas plant near the leakage. No one bothered to confirm whether the fire was truly caused by the truck but the issue still remained that NNPC did not fix the crack on the pipeline even though escaping gas until it kill lives and destroyed properties.
After this incident, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, visited the area to commiserate with the victims. He felt the impact of the accident on the victims and, in order to alleviate their pains, pledged the sum of N2bn relief fund for them. He released two N250m into this fund and called on well meaning Nigerians and organisations to assist him in raising the remaining amount. It is uncertain how much was generated for this issue, but it is certain that the victims are still waiting for this relief fund.
Many Nigerians have forgotten about this explosion. Like every other tragedy that happens around us, we have waived this one aside too. But then, a lot of people are still passing through the trauma caused by the shock from the experience.
A video, where a lady was lamenting her loss to the explosion, was shared by someone in the WhatsApp group of my secondary school classmates. I was surprised because I thought funds were raised for the victims of the explosion. I knew that what was lost was more than the amount the governor pledged but I was dismayed to learn that the victims are still looking up to the government for more.
My greatest shock came when one of my classmates said that she is also a victim and that has not received anything from the state government. According to her, her newly built school is among the buildings that were affected on that day. But fortunately for her, the explosion happened on Sunday, when classes were not in session. She said she is currently running around, raising funds to put the school building together since it is obvious that no one will do for her. However, she said that people that lost someone to the explosion were given the sum of N2.5m each. The rest were just shared food items. And that was it.
Well, I don’t want to believe more relief materials and help are not coming to these victims. I know the state governor released the sum of N250m for the victims immediately this thing happened. Even if nothing else was generated for the victims, the money given by the state government would have gone round to some extent. But from what I can see, something happened between the time the money was released and when it got to the victims and nobody knows exactly what it was.
It is possible that the governor released money while the people meant to distribute it diverted it. This is a common occurrence in this country. For instance, sometime in July, the investigation of the Niger State COVID-19 Taskforce by the State House of Assembly led to the discovery of a secret warehouse, where food items contributed by corporate organisations and well meaning Nigerians, as the lockdown palliatives, were hidden. This comes to show that it wasn’t the fault of the state or federal government that people didn’t receive palliatives despite the massive donations made towards that. In fact, this discovery explained why people only received palliatives donated directly by individuals and shared under their supervisions. Those that were given to the government ended up in the wrong hands.
This then calls on the Lagos State government to probe the distribution of relief materials and funds meant for the victims of the Abule-Ado gas explosion. This fund was raised solely for them, but it is obvious that it has ended up in the wrong hands. Worse is, everybody is blaming the state governor.