LAGOS EXPLOSION: THE INCIDENT, THE FACTUAL, THE NARRATIVE AND THE DILEMMA
THE INCIDENT, THE FACTUAL, THE NARRATIVE AND THE DILEMMA.
It was the fire at first, then the blast. People were seen running around with no destination in mind, while houses were left without roofs and windows. One could see vehicles in flames and some with mangled body. Cries everywhere as Lagos woke up to yet another ‘Code Red’.
THE INCIDENT: On the 15th of March, 2020 at about 0800 hrs, while the city was preparing for Sunday morning life characterized by Christian worships and services, street soccer and petty trading, a sudden blast was heard and felt miles away. So far, about 15 people have been confirmed dead and several injured with houses damaged, vehicles burnt and confusion everywhere.
THE FACTUAL: A truck conveying boulders got stuck in mud on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Right Of Way (ROW). In an attempt to forcefully move the truck out of the mud, the tools employed generated an abrasion on the buried pipelines culminating into fire on the pipeline. This was at a time NNPC was already pumping Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) into Ejigbo Depot. Meanwhile, pockets of gas vendors close to the scene had leakages making the air already charged. This further propelled the massive explosion with so much intensity and impact that it was felt miles away.
THE NARRATIVE: The affected area is predominantly dominated by the Igbos and Niger Deltans who are also Christians, while the truck driver is presumed to be a northern Muslim. This has led to growing insinuations with videos trending, suggesting that the blast is a terrorist or Jihadist attack by northern Boko Haram (BH) elements, ostensibly owing to the massive impact generated. One was even seen in the video parading an object wrapped in waterproof pack as a yet to be discharged explosive.
THE DILEMMA: The already disenchanted residents might yet face another shock when the committee set up by the Lagos State Government with the mandate to look into the incident come up with its report. Its terms of reference include, identifying the root cause of the incident and recommending a way out or solution to prevent future occurrence. It is very clear that this committee will possibly recommend demolition of all structures along the ROW. This includes buildings that are about 15 meters ROW as against the stipulated set back of 50 meters.
It is pertinent to note that the Igbos/Niger Deltans support for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Former governor Akinwunmi Ambode and their eventual loss in that election have made them ever since to always view policies of Governor Sanwo-Olu as anti-Igbo. The planned relocation of computer village, demolition of some settlements in Amuwo odofin and Ibeju-Lagos is already on the front burner. A new recommendation as expected will further exacerbate this narrative. While government is expected to do the needful to keep the city safe and secured, the need for further engagements with a view to ameliorating their losses through provision of social support services, first as a form of psychological first aid. This should be followed by provision of social infrastructure like repairs of damaged roads in the area before any thought of demolition be embarked upon.