Succour is about to come the way of victims of fire incidents in two markets in Edo State as the promised assistance by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki is about to be fulfilled. Recall that Osa and Oba Markets had on December 22, 2019, and June 22, 2020, respectively been gutted by fire following which the state governor promised financial assistance to alleviate the plight of victims of the devastating infernos. They had however waited this long for the fulfillment of the promised assistance.
In a statement on Thursday by the secretary to the state government, Osarodion Ogie, the government announced the approval of immediate disbursement of grants to victims of the fire incidents. Ogie, a lawyer, said the grant was approved by the governor to alleviate their plight.
The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC however chided the government, stating that “If the governor really had the interests of these women at heart, why did he wait till today to offer them peanuts when we went to the market to promise them what they deserve in the morning?” warning that “Let Edo people not be deceived, this man has absolutely no plan”.
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Ogie had in his statement, directed traders who were screened and whose names are on the approved list, to approach any branch of Trustfund Microfinance Bank to receive what he called their livelihood restoration grant from the state government. According to him, “To help alleviate the plight of the victims of the Oba Market and Ekiosa Market fire disasters, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki approved the immediate distribution of the grant for the affected victims.
“Consequently, upon Mr. Governor’s concern for the restoration of livelihood of the affected traders, a verification process was undertaken to ascertain the number of victims and the degree of loss suffered by each trader. This verification process took place openly for a period of over three (3) months, and it received key inputs from the market leaders, union groups, and key stakeholders.
“Please note that this Grant from Mr. Governor is a livelihood support grant to help ease the pain of the affected traders. It is free and the traders are not to pay back”.
However reacting to the announcement, the chairman of the Edo APC Media Campaign Council, John Mayaki said the governor was not serious with governance. Berating the government, Mayaki said its action was informed by mass protest by the women against the governor and the visit of the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu to the markets where he promised to rethink the way markets were built and managed in the state should he be elected governor. The APC alleged that Obaseki suddenly approved the disbursements of the grants “ostensibly to cajole them for votes”.
Recalling that the APC had raised the alarm of a N5 billion set aside by the government for alleged “vote commerce and rigging” of the election, Mayaki said Ize-Iyamu had observed earlier on Thursday that “most of our markets are in terrible conditions and lack conveniences and safety, hence, the need to rethink the way they are built and the process of management”. He said the party’s candidate had also promised to encourage, through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the construction of shopping malls in major centres across the state.”
Cataloguing the various fire incidents at the Uselu Spare Parts Market, Oliha, Santana, and Osa Markets, as well as the Urhokpota fire disasters, which he said exposed the terrible state of Edo fire service and the government’s disdain for the common man, Ize-Iyamu disclosed plans to modernize, scale-up, and enhance the capacity of Edo State Fire Service to respond effectively to critical fire incidents, so, “every major market in the state will be reformed to accommodate a fire service unit. These units will serve as a branch of the state fire service”.