Responsible Journalism at its Best

LET’S MAKE THIS TANKER DRIVER OUR NEXT GOVERNOR IN DELTA STATE

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Nigeria has become what it is. You need to be naturally gifted and ought to have achieved some wizardry in argument to convince most Nigerians that we still do have selfless people among us. I am not referring to Nigerian politicians who are generally adjudged—wrongly or rightly—as the devil incarnate. I am rather referring to Nigerians as a whole; it is hard to believe that one can be selfless with his money, possession or life. But the truth is we still have Nigerians who do things for the sake of God, if religious, or for the sake of humanity, if not religious. Some do things both for the sake of God and humanity.

The Deltan truck driver, Mr Ejiro Otarigho, has displayed a rare selflessness which many would describe un-Nigerian. This is a man who, like a fictional character, bravely sacrificed his soul for others to live at this particular juncture of our existence where people ecstatically sacrifice many lives (unjustly) just because they want to live.
But God in His infinite Mercy accepted the sacrifice of this man without taking his soul. His soul was miraculously spared in a circumstance which defied explanation. Some have described his action as stupid bravery but his ‘stupidity’ has been crowned with success. Now he lives worthily and he let others live.

Mr Ejiro is the tanker driver whose truck laden with petroleum got fire in a jam-packed and densely populated area at Agbarho town in Delta State. While it mayn’t be unwise to jump out of the truck to save his life, he thought it wiser to risk his live and drive to a safer place to minimize disaster or avert it completely. We can only imagine the disastrous loss that would have trailed such explosion in terms of lives and property.

I believe Deltans are wise people, they should make this man a hero for his heroism. Not hero to be worshipped but one to be revered and entrusted with public office to advance his eagerness to advance the noble cause of saving lives and safeguarding the interests of the Deltans. I wish I was a Deltan to establish brotherhood with this man; though I can claim to be his brother as long as we remain Nigerians.

Some Jingoists and tribal warlords will hate this kind of talk since their utmost interest is to break up the country. I know some unfortunate elements will frown at seeing a northerner eulogising a Deltan for this rare feat. To them, eulogizing expression of this kind is itself a criminal (if not treasonable) offence. My prayer is that we get it right one day.

It is gladdening to observe that in the midst of raging killing ideology which is in vogue in Nigeria wherein the sight of innocent blood is the most soothing relaxer to some outlaws, there emerges a man in Delta which mission is to safe lives. This is not to say people like him are not in other states, but today’s column is a tribute to him. Since the incident occurred a week ago, I have not seen writers praising this man for this uncommon feat. We took to our keyboards to condemn every taker of lives, why shouldn’t we instruct our keyboards to shower encomiums on this saver of lives?
Why shouldn’t this man be praised? A 46-year old man with four children who married just two months ago.

He commanded his truck boy (apprentice) who drew his attention to the flame and had just started work few months ago to jump off the tanker in order not to be harmed. He drove the burning truck for about 20-25 minutes to a safer place in order not to kill an estimated 5,000 innocent people. He prefers to die alone if comes the worst when the worst was the most probable thing to happen. Ejiro! You are too much.
People of Agbarho town and Delta State should consider naming their new-borns in this month Ejiro to celebrate this gallant man. Fortunately, Ejiro is an androgynous name which means “praise God.” Thus, it does not matter whether the new-born babies are males or females. Other admirers of Ejiro’s gallantry all over Nigeria might also wish to name their babies Ejiro.

When asked on how he felt about his family, he responded: “at that time, with the situation on ground, the only thing that was on my mind was how I can save lives. Now I feel very fulfilled because at the end, I did not die and nobody died.” Read the full interview in Punch. When asked if the Government has reached out to him, he simply and humbly responded; “Yes, they have. I have received calls from them but I am not interested in any national honour of any sort right now…All I want is a replacement for my burnt tanker so that I can go back to my job.”

I learnt some well-meaning Nigerians have reached out to Ejiro. May they be guided and blessed. The Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly has also lauded Ejiro’s courage and express his gratitude for his bravery. Kudos to him. The Delta State Governor has presented to him a cheque of N2 million, a plaque and a letter of commendation. Kudos to the Governor, but this is not enough. The Governor, in addition, should honour Ejiro by vacating his seat for a day for Ejiro to symbolically govern Delta State. Doing so, hopefully, shall spur people to be selfless and self-sacrificing for the betterment of all.

Can’t the Deltans just make Ejiro their next governor? After all, with the precedent set by APC, he doesn’t need to participate in primary election for his name to be submitted to INEC. But if PDP in Delta State could not stoop so low to display that level of shamelessness and want of integrity, they can make Ejiro their next governor in 2027. We ask our Creator to guide and have mercy on Ejiro and make Nigeria better.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen
salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com
@salahuddeenAbd

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