Alhaji Ahmed Maikudi, a popular newspaper distributor in Bauchi State, is now counting his losses after a midnight fire gutted his entire house, located at Fada Mada area in Bauchi Metropolis.
The incident occurred on Sunday January 20, 2019 at midnight, sacking the entire family.
Maikudi, with his two wives and nine children, miraculously escaped unhurt from the house he built 11 years ago.
However, the popular newspaper distributor explained to sympathisers who have been trooping to see him that things have been difficult since the fire outbreak as the family had to rely on friends and Good Samaritans for food, clothing and shelter.
Maikudi, who said the fire started as a result of an electrical fault, recalled that on that fateful day, the family had all retired to sleep, only to be woken by the unexpected midnight visitor.
“Around 12am, my daughter Hadiza heard an unusual sound in the house. When she came outside from her room in the compound to check, she noticed smoke was coming out from one of the rooms. When she moved closer, she saw a huge fire burning.”
Maikudi said when she informed her elder sister Zainab, the latter did not want to cause panic by waking the father or mother.
He said his older daughter quickly and quietly went in search of the key to the entrance and opened the padlock before coming to wake him up.
“We then woke up the whole family, including the small children. When I came outside the compound, what l saw shocked me and I quickly mobilised my entire family and we started running out of the house through that exit door. That was what saved us. As God would have it, we all ran out safely as the whole house began to catch fire.”
All 12 members of his household who were sleeping before the fire outbreak escaped unhurt.
Before scrambling outside for safety, Maikudi had grabbed his handset and car key beside his bed, quickly called fire service and a few friends and relations.
Before his wife and children could know his next plan, he dashed back into the house and made straight for the garage where his car was parked.
“I was acting on instinct,” Maikudi said. “It was a risky thing to do. As soon as I made to enter the car, I realised that the garage gate was locked. I didn’t have the key. By this time, the garage was gradually being surrounded by fire. By one side of the floor was sawdust from the ceiling which is highly flammable. I had to do something fast. I entered the car and, God so kind, it started at the first kick and with speed, I drove the car on reverse, breaking the gate. My car was damaged from the rear but I came out. But the bonnet was on fire.Thank God I had my car fire extinguisher by my side which I used to quench it.”
It was only the next day when he was taking his bath that Maikudi noticed he had some patches and burns on his left ear and thigh. He noticed that the trousers he was putting on had some spots of fire burns.
Apart from his car, the family could not remove valuables from the house because the fire was ferocious.
After making the emergency call, Maikudi was concerned about preventing the fire from spreading to the adjacent house behind his.
“We started putting water to prevent the fire spilling over when the fire service from the state came to the rescue and not long after that the fire service from the Tatari Ali Polytechnic also came, but before that my house had been completely razed down.”
Maikudi said it is difficult to ascertain how much he lost to the incident as valuable documents, books, clothing materials, furniture, utensils, and the family’s belongings were destroyed.
Searching through the ruins of what used to be personal valuables, the majority was engulfed by the fire.
Maikudi searched the debris and pulled out his note book of African History exercise book dated to 1983 when he was in form 3.
“These books are precious to me but now they are gone,” Maikudi, described as a meticulous person by friends and colleagues, lamented.
Maikudi’s scattered family, having lost all their belongings, are now being temporarily accommodated by some kind-hearted neighbours.
“We could only run out with the clothes we were having on our bodies. We all ran out without shoes. It is an experience that we will never forget,” he said.
Maikudi, still running his private business, said that things have been difficult for him in terms of sustaining his family since the fire outbreak.
“It has been difficult for me. We lost almost all our earthly possessions to the fire. My wife and children’s original credentials, PVCs, documents, except for mine that I kept in the car before the incident. I was to present my CV the originals of my credentials to my elder brother, a professor, before the fire incident. I left them in the car.”
Having lost so much to the fire, Maikudi now finds himself appealing to well-meaning Nigerians for aid to enable him rebuild his damaged house and resettle his displaced family.
“It is a difficult experience because having been the one catering for yourself and family, to find yourself suddenly not able to shelter, struggling to get where to bath, to eat, is a big shocker. These clothes and slippers I am wearing was given to me by a kind neighbour. My wife and the children are scattered in houses of families and friends and we can’t live like that for long. We need help,” Maikudi appealed.