Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Aloysius Attah and David Onwuchekwa
Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has directed that a bank account be opened to assist Onitsha fire victims of October 16, 2019.
The State Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, who disclosed this in a statement, said that money for the victims should be paid into an account designated as Anambra State Victims Support Account domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc: 5030105029.
Adinuba said the opening of the account became necessary following the deluge of appeals for assistance coming to the state government from the victims. The account, the statement stressed, would be administered by distinguished sons and daughters of the state, who serve as trustees of the Anambra State Security Trust Fund, led by Chief Chidi Anyaegbu, Chairman of Chisco Group of Companies.
This is as Governor Obiano initiated a move to grant the Anambra State Fire Service greater autonomy.
The statement read: “Subject to approval by the Anambra State House of Assembly, the law setting up the state Fire Service will be amended to make it independent of the state Ministry of Public Utilities or any other ministry.
“The autonomy will free it from unnecessary bureaucratic encumbrances and enable it to respond more effectively to the challenges to its mandate.
According to the statement, “The agency will have as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer as Air-Vice Marshall Ben Chiobi, who is currently Special Adviser to the Anambra State Governor on Creative Security.”
The Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, on his part, expressed sympathized for the inferno.
Obi, who led other PDP members in both the National Assembly and State House of Assembly on a visit to the burnt sites, yesterday, made a cash donation of N2 million for immediate treatment of those affected.
Also speaking, Senator Uche Ekwunife who accompanied the former governor, called on all men of goodwill to show love to all those affected through material and financial support.
Obi’s gesture is coming on the heels of a passionate appeal made by the President-General, Onitsha Improvement Union (OIU), Sir Chike Ekweogwu, calling on public-spirited individuals in the state and beyond to identify with the plights of victims of the fire disaster.
Ekweogwu said intervention by relevant disaster management agencies such as National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its state counterpart (SEMA) would help the victims to stabilise their sources of livelihood.
He pleaded with the state government to decongest markets in Onitsha as part of solutions to forestall huge economic losses in the event of fire outbreaks.
In a related development, the Christian Council of Nigeria has calls on government to stop incessant fire accidents at Onitsha Upper Iweka, describing the Wednesday incident as a monumental loss to the Igbo and the nation in general.
The council in a statement, yesterday, signed by its State Chairman, Bishop Dr Owen Nwokolo, said it sympathized with the families of those who lost their loved ones and properties, adding that it was quite painful and heart- breaking that in a time like this, when the economy of the nation is in quagmire that such economic loss would happen.
The Bishop called on federal and state government agencies to rise up to their responsible to forestall such occurrences in the future by making sure that proper measures were put in place.
Similarly, the Founder of Tansian University Anambra State, Monsignor John Bosco Akam, also sent his prayers to those affected by the fire incident. In a message to the victims, yesterday, Akam prayed for their divine blessings of strength and consolation.