It’s when you are acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.
– Veronica Roth.
The video clips and online stories making the rounds in recent time regarding a petrol tanker, on fire, successfully careened out of a densely populated human settlement to a nearby grassy neighbourhood has come to be facts as against fiction or photoshop as we hear it said. Those who validated the story are probably among the people in the best of positions so to do. That is to say that the story is true.
Truth be told, I had the opportunity of viewing one such clip and I saw what I had worrisome cogitation of seeing hellfire on the move until I had cause to believe that it was actually a tanker. I verily treated every effort to sell its veracity to me with a pinch of salt since there is no kind of clip we don’t see in recent times, which even a moron is certain they aren’t true. One such clip is a baboon running around town and paralysing each human he met with a deadly punch. Another such is the intercontinental highway meandering through the mountain cliffs of the world’s forests. This particular moving inferno is true. It is a reality. Unbelievably so at that. It was actually a tanker and that tanker was on fire. It happened in Agbarho in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. The man behind the wheel was Ejiro Otarigho. Many people close to me – credible Nigerians – know him in person and know the community that was spared this agony.
Recently, on the occasion of the flood disaster in the Kwazulu Natal Province of South Africa, which was said to have claimed about 341 lives, President Buhari was quoted to have said that he was “unspeakably devasted.” ( See The Guardian online, 16th April 2022, 4:06 pm.) Now, I say, if our beloved President was unspeakably devastated over an unpalatable event that happened in far away South Africa, he should now be speakable comforted and overtly joyed over the thousands of lives and millions of Naira worth of property saved in the commendable show of bravado by a Nigerian to Nigerians. Our hero is not a subject in the Disney World. He is here with us. His name is Ejiro Otarigho, married and fathers four children excluding the one in his wife’s womb and whose means of sustenance is driving a truck.
What an Ejiro! This guy refused to prefer the well-being and upbringing of his four kids to the lives of thousands of Nigerians. This guy, in the face of calamity hanging like the sword of Damocles over our Nigerian heads, refused to remember his beautiful wife and the fact that she is pregnant. This guy, like that Ebola woman, preferred to sacrifice his life to save Nigerians. Dr Stella Amaye Adadevoh is her name. She refused to allow Mr Patrick Sawyer who flew into Nigeria from Liberia and was kept in restraint from leaping out of a Lagos hospital like a frog. Dr Stella paid with her life but thank goodness, Ejiro survived.
And having survived, let us give him a State Burial while he is alive. The Delta State government should name at least one street after him in Asaba, the Delta State capital. The Federal Government of Nigeria should take it from there and name a street after him in Abuja. Ejiro should be given a minimum of a Duplex in Abuja City with a life job in a juicy Ministry/Department/Agency. Yes. Since there are juicy Committees in the National Assembly, there must be juicy Government Agencies or Departments in which Ejiro should be employed.
It does not end there because what Ejiro did was humongous. There should be an Executive Order awarding his children (including the one enclosed in the womb) scholarship to the University level. Last but not the least, Ejiro should be pencilled for the National Honour of at least, Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON), an honour reserved especially for Vice Presidents of Nigeria and people in that category.
It was supposed to be a natural disaster, but here, Ejiro heroically outwitted nature and circumvented the catastrophe nature would have occasioned to the children of men. Today, we would have probably been counting our losses in terms of lives and property. While the Federal Government will be prosecuting these required tasks of honouring Ejiro, Delta State Government should be replicating the same or even doing better because they are the first beneficiaries of Ejiro’s heroism.
Finally, the movement, now started by Rights Advocate and CASER Executive Director, Frank Tietie, should be patronized by simply keying into the project of saying something like ‘we are proud of you’ to Ejiro by giving, even if it’s as small as one can give. By so doing, we will be sending out signals that it’s natural, moral and it’s African to identify and associate with heroism as against villainy.
(Abuja-based legal Practitioner and commentator on contemporary issues)