The Ravages of Fire


By Sufuyan Ojeifo

“Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.” – Martha Graham

The title of this piece sounds profoundly hurtful, but that is the reality of our times. Fire outbreaks have been on the rise in Nigeria in recent times and Nigerians have been largely shocked and traumatised by the increasing destructions that have, resultantly, been mercilessly unleashed on them, thus reinforcing the truism in a Latinate proverb that “Fire, water, and government know nothing of mercy.”

Fire, as a culprit in this instant practicality, like water though, does not know the colours of the skin. It does not understand ethnic or tribal backgrounds. It is religion-blind. It plagues everybody, everywhere, if it is provoked. The other day in Abuja, it failed to appreciate the sacrosanctity of the extension building of the House on the Rock Church. It reared its ugly head there and turned a hitherto beautiful structure into a carcass.

Perhaps, the entire structure would have become a rubbish heap if not for the Federal Fire Service which moved in with a “miracle solution” that it deployed in putting out the fire. I had it from a grapevine that the Fire Service sidestepped their old method of using water and foam and chose, instead, to use the new F-500 Encapsulator Agent (EA) that has been described as a revolutionary innovation in firefighting.

The agent, as understood, is a fire suppressant that works effectively to knockdown fire in the shortest possible time, sometimes, in a matter of seconds, depending on the volume of fire. I also understand that it is currently the only fire suppressant agent that can encapsulate hydrocarbon vapours, rendering them non-flammable and non-ignitable.

Besides, it is said to have three unique features that make it superior to other agents: the ability to rapidly cool down the temperature of a fire in seconds, thereby providing permanent burn-back resistance; the ability to encapsulate the hydrocarbon molecules, rendering them non-flammable and non-ignitable; and, the ability to interrupt the free radical coalescence, thereby inhibiting the formation of toxic soot and smoke.

Recent media reports said that some ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) such as the Federal Fire Service, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Ministry of Interior, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), etc., have tested and certified the deployment and use of the product in their facilities.

These organisations should avail us with feedbacks of the performance of the products so that Nigerians can have the opportunity of choosing to or not to arm themselves with the product. This is not the time to stick with the status quo. If the traditional products and firefighting methods have proved incapable of helping us to effectively combat the ravaging fires that have been doing the palongo dance in our domains, then we should paradigmatically shift to another attractive option, which the F-500 EA typifies.

We must all act prudently in combating fire incidents where we fail to prevent its outbreaks in towns and cities across the country. We must slow down its ferocity at consuming lives and property, and leaving in its trails anguish and emptiness. After all, life is more important than fire even though both are comparable and extinguish eventually.

Otto Weininger, an Austrian philosopher, corroborated this in his postulation, to wit: “Among the notable things about fire is that it also requires oxygen to burn – exactly like its enemy, life. Thereby are life and flames so often compared.” An American author, educator, and clergyman, Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr., expounded further that “Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it. The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out.”

How utilitarian have the various means of putting out fires been to us? It is eternally painful that fire has been on a perpetual voyage of visitation, snatching from us our loved ones; and what have we been able to deploy to put them out?

On December 28, 2015, over 300 shops and other items worth millions of naira were reportedly razed by fire at the Sango plank market in Ibadan. On December 29, 2016, a midnight fire reportedly razed a section of the Gombe Old Market, consumed 48 shops as well as destroyed property worth millions of naira.

On January 7, this year, a midnight fire gutted part of the Nnewi Timber Market in Anambra State, destroying goods and machines worth billions of naira. \Also, on January 8, a seven-storey building, known as Brazas Plaza, located at the Balogun market extension on Lagos Island, was gutted by fire, which destroyed multi-million naira goods, valuables, including cash.

While on February 16, this year, a night fire razed a filling station, 15 vehicles and some nearby buildings along the Upper New Market Road, Onitsha, and destroyed other property worth millions of naira; it was the turn of nine shops at the popular estate roundabout market in Warri, on February 19.

On April 11, this year, the administrative building of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Lagos was razed by fire. And much recently, on July 15, property worth millions of naira was destroyed by fire which razed at least 35 shops at Ogunpa/Oke Bola area of Ibadan. On July 16, the fire incident at the LINC Oil and Gas’ tank farm in Calabar Free Trade Zone reportedly killed more than 30 persons.

The list is not exhaustive. The human fatalities are benumbing. The material losses are staggering. We cannot continue to watch the lives of our kith and kin cut short abruptly by ravaging fires. Whereas, “when man invented fire”, according to Steven Moffat, Coupling/#4:’Inferno’ (original airdate June 2, 2000), “he didn’t say, ‘Hey, let’s cook’. He said, ‘Great, now we can see naked bottoms in the dark’.”

But the fire that Moffat immaterially describes in these celebrated lines has exceeded the circumscribed expectation of illuminating only naked bums; it is now consuming bums indiscriminately – both covered and naked – and almost overwhelming our sense of responsibility and sensitivity. We must act to effectively and efficiently contain it by embracing innovative firefighting solutions.

Otherwise, we may be deuced as Tennessee Williams, an American playwright (1911-1983) surmised: “We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” This, evidently, should be far away from our contemplation now that there are arrays of new firefighting innovative technologies from which to choose. Did I hear you say: God forbid; we will not be trapped by raging fire? Then, we must commit ourselves to doing the right things.

Mr. Ojeifo, an Abuja-based journalist, contributed this piece via ojwonderngr@yahoo.com

Leave a comment

Recent Posts

I started creating content at age 9 – Layi Wasabi …….I felt I needed a tour guide for Anikulapo’s set- Layi Wasabi From making funny skits on Instagram to appearing in Kunle Afolayan’s blockbuster movie, Anikulapo, Olayiwola Isaac, popularly known as Layi Wasabi, is making efforts to keep exploring the entertainment industry. In this interview with DAVID ADEBAYO, Layi shares his journey into skit-making, acting, and more that should be expected from him. PSN: You became popular with skit making, and suddenly, you are in the face of everybody. Now everybody wants to see you beyond Instagram. You have transitioned into acting, and it seems you started on the right footing with Anikulapo. Does your quickness surprise you? Layi: Okay, let me describe the feeling like this: You know, when you’re a child and you put your leg into your father’s shoes, you know you will walk around in those shoes, feeling funny and wobbling. That was how being on the Anikulapo set felt to me. It was a huge leap. It also made me question whether I was prepared to tackle the show. For the longest time, I’ve always been a lover of theatre. I’ve always wanted to do movies, stage performances, and even stand-up comedy. I just wanted to entertain in every dramatic form. PSN: Did you ever think Anikulapo would bring you to the limelight? I didn’t think that Anikulapo would be one of my first movies as Layi Wasabi. So when I got the call from the director that I was part of the cast for Anikulapo, it was a thrilling experience. PSN: It is one thing that you’re called to be on the set of Anikulapo; it’s another thing to have the idea that it is being pushed by Netflix; what was that feeling like? Layi: For me, I think Netflix came as an afterthought. So I think the first thing that came to mind, aside from the sponsor, was the project itself. So, knowing that Netflix is there lets you know the level at which the production of this movie is going to be. And that, for me, is super amazing. You know that this is a large scale and a very hyper-genre. But for me, what struck me first as an actor was what I had to do to get the art form at its best. I knew Kunle Afolayan was someone who was very committed to art. Therefore, someone of Kunle Afolayan’s calibre would expect you to give your utmost interpretation in whatever role he assigns you. PSN: So you felt you had to bring your A-game into this? Layi: So first of all, I knew that I was on his set with Kunle Afolayan; that was the first thing on my mind. Then I told myself, Layi, you have to bring your A game to this thing. Then, as I was working on a Netflix project, it dawned on me that it was indeed a Netflix project. I thought, Okay, this is serious business, boy; you have to do what you’re doing right. Yeah, some people were expecting to see the green lace and the green cocktail, just like you do on Instagram. PSN: Were you overwhelmed at any point? Layi: It was simply a dream-like situation for me. That was how it felt. I felt like a kid in a museum. That’s how it feels. I remember the first time I saw Taiwo Hassan. He passed me, and I felt like I grew up watching the people I was on set with. I felt like I needed a tour guide on that set. It was a huge moment in my life. So it was a dreamlike experience, very humbling, and very inspiring. PSN: What do you think about the storyline that you played in? Layi:It was a role that was offered, but I kind of understood why the casting director would pick me for the role. You know, and the two other people that, cause, the role I was supposed to play was that of someone that was pestering Saro. So, I could understand why the casting director was picking me for the role. The casting director decided to pick people like Wasabi, Sisi Quadri, may God rest his soul, and Funmi Awelewa for that role because, if you’re familiar with things that we’ve done aside from this project, you know that we know how to lambast people with our words. PSN: You have been nominated for the African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA); how does it feel to be recognized for your creative work? Layi: I’m grateful to God for life. I’m also grateful to African Magic and MultiChoice for the opportunity and the recognition, as a lot of work goes into digital content creation, and it is gratifying to have my work listed as something worth this honour. PSN: Can you tell us about your journey as a content creator and how you got started in this field? Layi: My journey as a content creator has pretty much been jet fuel. Although I’ve been doing content creation since I was about 9–10, I’ve also been acting since I was 13. Content creation for the digital space started in 2021, and there were a few challenges here and there, but overall, it’s been an amazing experience. I was able to gather an audience quite quickly. It came with a few challenges, but the upsides are better than the downsides. PSN: What inspires you to create content, and where do you draw your creative inspiration from? Layi: What inspired me to create content was the opportunity to share jokes and ideas. I’ve always been someone who loves social gatherings for the opportunity to just tell stories and share jokes with friends. Creating content felt like a way to do that. PSN: What do you consider to be your unique style or niche as a content creator? Layi: I think I create content for different purposes. Some of the content I create is for entertainment, and some is for people to relate to. My shooting star, POP, features a single man in front of the camera, while the content behind the camera is a blend of various styles. I really don’t know if there’s a niche in the comedy genre. I just feel like I create content for a particular purpose, or one that I have in mind at the time. PSN:How do you stay motivated and overcome creative blocks or challenges in your work? Layi: What motivates me the most is my audience; it’s very motivating to see the pool of people who didn’t know you before or haven’t met in real life just rooting for you, hoping to see you win, and looking forward to what you want to do next. It’s a very motivating feeling, and I love how I overcome creative blocks; sometimes I just step back from the drawing board and just experience life a little bit. I might as well grab a book and read or watch a movie. That’s the process of overcoming creative blocks for me. PSN: Can you walk us through your creative process, from idea generation to final execution? Layi: I think it differs from idea to idea. Some ideas originate as complete concepts, encompassing the beginning of the concept and its intended conclusion. The only thing I would do as a creative sometimes is just build the dialogue and the acting it would require. For some ideas, it could take months or weeks to have a perfect ending to the beginning of the story. It differs. In situations like that, ideas that don’t come as finished thoughts have to focus on the ones that are almost complete or finished already. Sometimes I revisit the old ones that I’ve not completed. I don’t force it most of the time. PSN: What advice would you give to aspiring content creators who are looking to establish themselves in the industry? Layi: They should try out a number of things and stick to what they know how to do best and what they think will make their audience thrive. Do what you are most comfortable doing as a content creator, because at the end of the day, if you are not comfortable doing that kind of content, at some point you will feel the need to outgrow it. It is important for a content creator to have a niche in order to grow your audience more strategically. PSN: How do you use social media and online platforms to engage with your audience and grow your content creator brand? Layi: It’s important for a content creator to grow a significant amount of following, and not just that, but a following that you understand. If you understand how to navigate your audience and have amassed a significant amount of it, this is what builds your influence as a brand and a content creator. That’s how I try to leverage social media by understanding my audience and trying to expand the reach I have as a content creator. PSN: Do you see yourself winning the AMVCA Award? Layi: It’s a privilege to be nominated. I hope I’m able to win, and I also recognize the fact that I’m shortlisted among great people, but it will be a pleasure. I would lie if I said I had not pictured myself winning the award, but it’s a pleasure to be nominated and recognized for the honour of winning an AMVCA.

Related Articles

Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce inagurates Atelly as 18th President, unveils programmes

Ray Atelly has been sworn in as the 18th President of the...

Kano guber poll ‘clerical error’: An Appeal Court judgment in a mire of controversy

The past few months have been characterized with legal tussles over the...

Why I did not walk out of Super Falcons before FIFA female World Cup – Waldrum

In a recent podcast interview with ‘On The Whistle’ podcast. Randy Waldrum,...

Niger’s ousted president is being denied food and electricity, says European Union

The European Union Friday said it had “deep concern” about the treatment...

Breaking: Ex-Kaduna Gov. El rufai might reject ministerial appointment 

The immediate past Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El rufai is...

President Tinubu appoints Ajuri Ngelale as special adviser media & publicity

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has approved the appointment of Chief Ajuri...

Are ‘balloons’ the new drug epidemic in Nigeria?

They may look like the normal balloons you see at children’s birthday...

From Fame to Penury: The Despicable Tales of Nigerian Veteran Thespians

The entertainment industry, particularly the movie circle, has been in the eye...

Content creation is the new oil, says Broda Shaggi in an exclusive interview with PSN

There are not many in the class of Samuel Animashaun Perry otherwise...

Hubby’s watery sperm, erectile dysfunction crash two-month-old marriage

A husband’s watery sperm has forced his wife to urge the court...

Max Air Acquires 16 Year Old Boeing 777-200

Kano based Max Air Limited has taken delivery of its first Boeing...

From waste collection to classroom: Story of Adamu’s pursuit of education

Coming from the background of a family of seven children and parents...

Fuel Subsidy: Need for Labour to tread softly, Softly 

The Labour Movement in Nigeria is up in arms against the Federal...

Between the dialectics and the benefits of petroleum subsidy removal

By Paul Njowusi For many years, successive administrations in Nigeria had embraced...

Kudos, knocks for courts’ ruling clearing the coast for Tinubu’s May 29 inauguration – PSN exclusive

By Ajuma Edwina Ameh and Samuel Akpan …the body language of the...

Buhari inaugurates N19.6bn Customs corporate hqts in Abuja, says new Customs Act will drive efficiency

With the newly signed Customs Act and a befitting corporate headquarters for...

Africa’s largest refinery, Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals, Lekki-Lagos inaugurated

Africa’s largest refinery, Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals planted in Ibeju-Lekki area...