Tragedies and Nigerian Government’s Unfulfilled Promises To Victims

The Abule Ado explosion in Lagos on Sunday once again brought to the fore how Nigerian Government officials are quick to make promises about preventable disasters and even quicker to forget those promises once the initial uproar fizzles out. 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos had promised N2bn as rehabilitation fund for victims of the Abule Ado explosion while visiting the area earlier in the week. 

Speaking at the incident scene on March 16, the governor said that the state would donate N250m towards the N2bn rehabilitation fund. 

The government had even gone ahead to open accounts for Nigerians to donate to the rehabilitation project.

But can Lagosians trust the government to fulfill its promise this time? SaharaReporters looks at some past tragedies and what became of the many promises made to victims by government. 

Pipeline explosion at Jesse in Niger Delta

This is perhaps the explosion in the history of Nigeria with the highest casualties. It happened in 1998 during the military administration under Abdulsalami Abubakar. Reports have it that at least 500 people died as a result of the explosion. 

According to reports, it took the intervention of the United State firefighters to put out the inferno that raged on for about five days. 

Abubakar promised at the time that the country would take precaution and ensure that no such explosion ever happened again. 

But years after that promise was made, there are still pipeline explosions that continue to claim lives across the country. Communities surrounding pipeline routes have continued to suffer both prolonged environmental hazards and sudden disasters like explosions.

Ikeja Cantonment explosion

In 2002, there was a massive explosion of munitions poorly stored at the Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos. Official reports said over 1000 people died but eyewitnesses quoted a higher figure. 

After the explosion, the Nigerian Government led by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, promised to compensate the victims of the avoidable disaster. Some form of compensation was promised to people who lost relatives, those maimed and those, who lost valuables. Millions of naira worth of properties were destroyed during the explosion. 

Ten years after that tragedy, victims are still pleading with the government to fulfill promises made to them. 

“After 10 years, the Lagos State government out of the 154 victims’ families, gave only 70 families N250, 000, while the remaining 84 were left behind and since then they have not done anything about it,” said Nurudeen Oyegbemi, Chairman of the victims’ families. 

Dana Air crash

A Dana aircraft 992 crashed into two multi-floor buildings at the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State. The 153 passengers on board the flight all died alongside people in buildings it crashed into. 

Government afterwards promised to compensate family members of residents in the building but this promise was never fulfilled, according to media reports. 

The memorial arcade erected in honour of victims has been abandoned and left to be overgrown by grasses. 

“The last time government officials visited was two years ago, that’s 2013. They came here with the former governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.  That was when the incident was one year. 

“The land belongs to two people, but the man who has a larger part of the land did not collect money.  He was affected more, he is Pastor Omowunmi Daniel.  

“He doesn’t live in this area anymore, he was here last week to see me,” one Ojasope, who watches over the memorial arcade, said in 2015, summarising government’s failure to fulfill promises made to victims of that tragedy. 

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