From Blessing Iruoma, Port Harcourt
Wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan has described the recent tanker fire at Okogbe Community in Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers State as a great loss to the South-South people.
Dame Jonathan, said this when she paid a condolence visit to victims of the fire at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), where the victims were being treated, Thursday.
She said: “For the people of the South-South this is very sad news, but we believe with this incident we have learnt a lesson, because we cannot be producing the oil and at the same time lose a lot of our lives through oil production.”
Accompanied by the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Hon. Dickson Seriake, Dame Jonathan stressed the need for people to avoid meddling with petroleum products while wishing the victims quick recovery.
The President’s wife further advised the citizenry to shun the lure of such products as she enjoined pipeline vandals to desist from endangering their lives as well.
The first lady appealed to the Governors in the region and the authorities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to carry out more enlightenment campaign over the dangers of meddling with petroleum products.
She recalled that, “this is not first time the people of South-South have experienced such sad incident. “It has been recurring, so it is high time we had done more to enlighten the people on the dangers of petroleum products.”
She extols Rivers State Government for responding swiftly to the incident. “If not for the quick intervention of the Rivers State Government to the scene, we could have lost more lives,” she said.
She conveyed the President’s condolence to the victims, prayed God to grant the affected families the fortitude to bear the loss of their loved ones, as she prayed for the quick recovery of those in the hospital.
In his speech, Governor Amaechi thanked Dame Jonathan for making out time to visit the victims of the tanker fire stressing that such gesture demonstrates that she is really a daughter of the state. He urged her to convey the state’s appreciation to the President whom he said has shown serious concern over the incident prior to her visit. “The President and I spoke about it on phone and he wished us a lot of support and sympathy,” he said.
He noted that the news of the incident was received with shock and devastation by the people of the state and prayed that it never happens again. “Like I said when I went to see the villages that witnessed the incident, may it not happen again”.