BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
FOR Mr. Hope Adeleke, a serving police officer attached to one of the Police formations in Warri, Delta Delta State, Monday January 24 may possibly be the worst day of his life.
This is because on the night of that ill-fated day, he lost four of his six children to a kerosene explosion which occurred at his residence in Oghara, the administrative headquarters of Ethiope West Local government area of Delta State. Since then life has more or less been one continuous nightmare for him.
When he left his Oghara family residence that day, little did he know that he was saying his last bye-bye to his children. In fact, he would have scoffed at any prophesy suggesting that was the last time he would see his children. But of course, fate had a shocker for him.
At the Burns Ward on Wednesday at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), where his wife and the remaining two children are lying in critical conditions, Mr. Adeleke appeared dazed, traumatized and in a state of shock as he tried to come to terms with the realities of the tragedy that has befallen him. As two clerics from his church in Oghara comforted him with prayers and exhortations, he continued to mumble to himself and shaking his head as if overwhwelmed by sorrow.
Attempt by Vanguard Metro to speak with him failed as he was obviously still in a state of shock to say anything. But one of the clerics who spoke without giving his name said that as soon as the incident occurred, they were summoned to the scene. “We were told that the victims have been rushed to the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, at Oghara. We rushed down there and saw the last child give up the ghost”.
According to him, with the death of the last child, only the wife, Mrs. Edna Adeleke and her two children were still alive. “As men of God, we prayed for their survival but the Consultant told us that they cannot continue with the treatment and that they needed to be referred to a Teaching Hospital here in Benin where they have a special unit for this kind of case. That was how we went to the community to look for money and they were rushed to the Teaching Hospital. When the husband was informed all his efforts to get to the Teaching Hospital in Oghara, proved abortive as he had no means of getting there. It was when he got here that the news was broken to him yesterday.
“It has been very shocking and devastating to him. Thank God that he is faithful to his children and we believe that the mother and her remaining two children will survive and will be alive because God is charge,” he prayed. He therefore appealed to the Delta and Edo states governments as well as the Federal Government and public-spirited individuals to come to the aid of Mr. Adeleke as he alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of coping with the situation on ground.
He said that he has also appealed to members of his church to come to the aid of the victims financially to save their lives. He also called on Nigerians, irrespective of their religious persuasions, to help save the Adelekes by contributing generously for their treatment, saying that with their present situation, they need money for their treatment which Mr. Adeleke cannot afford now.
According to some medical personnels who spoke to Vanguard Metro but do not want to have their names in print, the cost of treating burns in the country was quite enormous as the drugs and other basic items needed for the treatment are quite expensive. In most cases, plastic surgery would be required, they said.
While waiting for help to come, Mr. Adeleke’s wife, Mrs. Edna, a petty trader and his two children are now on danger list at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) where they were admitted and are now battling for survival.
The National Coordinator of the Save Accidents Victims of Nigeria (SAVAN), Dr, Eddy Ehikhamenor who was on hand to receive the burns victims when they were brought in on Monday night, said the mother and her two children have over 85 percent degrees of burns.
Following the explosion, her neigbours rushed the victims to the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara where four of the affected children gave up the ghost.
Commenting on the incident which he described as very pathetic, SAVAN Coordinator – General, Dr. Eddy Ehikhamenor advised kerosene users to always carry simple tests on their kerosene before using it.
He listed such tests to include visual test, that is, the use of the eyes to ascertain whether the product was actually kerosene; to ascertain whether the colour of the kerosene was golden or light yellow; nasal examination to know if the kerosene was irritating, pungent or choking, saying that it was an indication that such product was fuel and not kerosene.
He also advised kerosene consumers to put a drop of the product on their skin to see if it will evaporate fast, saying that once the product evaporates very fast, it was an indication that it was fuel and very volatile just as he warned against the sale of adulterated kerosene to consumers by retailers and marketers in their bid to maximize profits.
It would be recalled that over 2,500 victims were involved in kerosene explosion that occurred in Edo State during the regime of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. Of the number, a total of 368 persons lost their lives and some are still dying of the injuries sustained during the explosion, according to Mr. Tony Erha, the Executive Director of LifTag, an NGO that fought the government of Igbinedion to a standstill over the issue.