BY ALBERT AKPOR
FOR 17 personnel of the Nigerian Navy, surviving the tempestuous 2010 was something they thought called for   celebration as the year gave way to 2011. Unfortunately their joy was rudely cut short  three days into the new-year by a fire that completely razed their accommodation.  It was a day they may never forget in a hurry.

The affected victims had as usual on the fateful day left their quarters, christened Navy Camp Side, located along the Kirikiri canal, Kirikiri Town in Apapa Lagos for their various duty posts. But by mid-noon they received a call that their houses were in flames.  They quickly rushed him but their arrival could not save the situation as the fire was raging out of control by then.  Not even the arrival,  though belatedly, of fire fighters could make any difference as the personnel and sympathisers watched helplessly as   documents and other important valuables were consumed in the inferno.

But relief soon came the way of the affected personnel as the President of the Navy Officers Wives Association NOWA, Hajia Modupe Ibrahim visited the scene one week after to assess the extent of damage and of course, generously donate food items and clothing to the victims.   Hajia Ibrahim in an emotion-laden speech at the occasion of the presentation said the fire may have directly affected the victims, but that the Nigerian Navy and by extension its officers wives equally share in their grief.

“This is actually a tragedy, a very painful incident at the beginning of a new year.  You may have been affected directly because from the position of things on the ground, everything you have laboured for in life have been destroyed in this fire.  But I want to assure you that this is also a great loss to the Nigerian Navy and we who are wives of officers share in your grief.  As an association, we are touched by this beginning of the year calamity and that is why we are here to give our widow’s mite.  We know this will not replace what you have lost individually, but we feel touched as human beings and as an association to do this,” she said.

In his own speech, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Emmanuel O. Ogbor, who described the fire as shocking coming few days into the new year, informed that all the 17 affected officers have been successfully relocated to new accommodation.  He said the Navy takes the issue of accommodation very seriously, saying a well relaxed and sound mind gives the best of productivity.

He said: “If you remember, there was a fire incident on Wednesday January 4, 2011 at the Navy Quarters along the Kirikiri canal and about 18 buildings were completely razed down.  We are still investigating the cause of the inferno, even though eyewitness said it started from one of the flats and later spread to all the other buildings.

The way the buildings were arranged also facilitated the quick spread of the fire.  We are aware that all the personnel had laboured for have been lost to the fire because from the report we got , the fire started while they were at their various duty posts and that is why the Navy has to respond promptly.

The Nigerian Navy takes the issue of accommodation very seriously and the affected personnel have been relocated because we believe that a sound and well relaxed mind can  give high productivity.  We are also taking measures to guard against such occurrence in the future”.

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