NIGERIA is a society whose fabric has been warped by decades of misgovernance by an extremely self-centred power elite. As a result, what is considered as noble and worthy of emulation in more sedate societies are generally overlooked while valuable attention is focused on barbaric political contests which have little or nothing to do with the interests of the common people.
On Saturday July 28, 2018, a 36- year-old Port Harcourt resident, identified as Mr. Joe Blankson, lost his life on the Abonnema-Bakana waterways in Rivers State while trying to rescue fellow citizens after their boat capsized. According to eye witnesses, Blankson was able to rescue 13 people but on his fourteenth effort he died, probably from exhaustion.
His body was recovered a day later. Though eye witnesses said six people died in the tragic incident, the Rivers State Police Command Spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni, insisted there was one death, though he did not indicate whether Blankson was the lone fatality.
According to Blankson’s wife, Mercy, who was interviewed by the crew of TushSpot News, an online TV, he was on his way to Bakana for an event when the tragedy occurred: He did not allow the fact that he had a promising life ahead of him as a successful contractor, and that he had a young beautiful wife and two tender children waiting for him at home to deter him from plunging into the angry waters to save the lives of people he did not know.
From his wife’s account, Blankson’s heroism that took his life was not the first time he was demonstrating uncommon selflessness. He was well known in his community as a peacemaker.
It is this public-spiritedness that is so lacking among the political actors who have cornered leadership at all levels of our country. When they fight, it is not for the common good; it is not a contestation for the superiority of ideas. It is not a fight for the truth. It is usually a fight for supremacy and prime positions at the buffet table of the nation’s commonwealth.
We salute Citizen Joe Blankson for his sacrifices. How we wish he survived his ordeal to savour the accolades that millions of appreciative Nigerians have been showering on him, especially on the social media. We commend efforts being made in several quarters to raise funds for the support of his young family and call on all well-meaning Nigerians to show their appreciation by giving generously, ensuring that the funds are fully channelled to the family.
We also call on the Federal and Rivers State governments to honour and immortalise Citizen Joe Blankson, making sure that his children will grow up to know that their father’s sacrifices were not in vain.