The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to protect fire fighters and their equipment from physical attacks during their missions of responding to emergencies and disasters.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, gave this charge while making remarks at the Fire and Safety Advocacy Visit and commissioning of a state-of-the-art firefighting truck by the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade, on Tuesday, 28 September, 2021, at the Government House Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
“There have been saddening reports of attacks on our personnel and equipment whenever they are out in response to distress calls. This makes it difficult for them to even carry out their assignments.
“Our communities now should stand up and own the firefighting equipment procured and deployed for their use at a huge cost. They should be the first line of defence for them in the face of attacks from vandals and unruly elements.
“Let us honour and respect ourselves by refraining from impulsive attacks on fellow citizens who are simply attending to our needs, albeit officially,” the Minister stated.
The Minister who took further tough stand on such attacks on harmless federal officers risking their lives to save others and to also minimize the loss occasioned by such fire incidents, noted that armed personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) will now be accompanying fire officers and bear the full weight of the law on unruly persons attacking those on life saving duty.
“We are making arrangements to accompany every mission with armed personnel. They will be empowered to take all necessary actions to protect our personnel and assets from any form of attack.
“Any assault on officers and men in the service is an assault on Nigeria and our sovereignty. The personnel are Nigerians with families, human rights and stake in our nation. Attack on any of them is equally an attack on a Nigerian with emotional tie with other Nigerians,” Ogbeni Aregbesola noted.
The Minister in acknowledging the support of President Muhammadu Buhari for the Ministry of Interior and its Agencies noted that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on March 3, earlier this year, graciously approved the sum of N10.4 billion for infrastructure upgrade at the FFS. This has enabled the Service to procure 44 additional firefighting engines, 15 water tankers, 15 rapid intervention fire engines (that can go into the nooks and crannies of any community to respond to distress calls) and 20 basic life support ambulances.
“I must therefore thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his continued interest in and support for our ministry and the four agencies, including the FFS.
“Under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, this Service has grown phenomenally. With the deployment of 141 fire engines and 6,000 personnel between 2016 and now, across the country to boost emergency response, FFS is now present in all the states of the federation and most responsive, saving lives and preventing humanitarian and economic disasters.
“These trucks and equipment have been spread round the country to strengthen the various state commands of the FSS and we are very pleased to commission the truck deployed for use in Cross Rivers State,” the Minister said.
In his remarks, the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Dr. Ibrahim Liman, prayed the State Governor to also extend a hand of support to the Federal Fire Service in the state, saying that deployment of the modern Fire Service Truck to the state was meant to assist the firefighting efforts in the state.
“The fire truck we are commissioning is a huge national asset, requiring optimum maintenance and fuelling. We craved the indulgence of the State Government to facilitate deployment of utility vehicles to support the operation of the vehicle.
“Sir, we want you to sponsor personnel of the State Fire Service for local and foreign training in view of emerging trends in firefighting and inclusion of the Federal Fire Service in the State Security Council” CG Ibrahim Liman stated.
Whilst speaking at the event, the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, commended the leadership attribute of the Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, saying he learnt a lot about leadership and his nationalistic ideas when he had the opportunity to meet him as governor in the State of Osun.
“Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is a round peg in a round hole, a square peg in a square hole. Those days when he was governor, he served on a committee with my own boss, who then instructed me to represent him.
“His views about Nigeria are nationalistic and must be commended. He’s the type of leader Nigeria needs,” the governor stated.
On providing the needed advocacy to citizens of the state to protect the asset that has been deployed to the state, the governor stated that his administration will do its best to sensitize the public on why such assets must be protected at all cost.
“We will do our best to make sure we take good care of the multimillion naira equipment that have been deployed to our state. We would carry out major advocacy as regards fire prevention, control and particularly, the protection of the firefighters and equipment,” the governor concluded.
During the cutting of the tape, Governor Ben Ayade, thanked the Federal Government for the deployment, promising that he will fulfill the promise enunciated by his deputy earlier.
“We would immediately begin our advocacy campaign and ensure our people protect the equipments. We would also use the opportunity of free training afforded to us at your training school here in Cross River.
“I will also look into the requests of the Controller General of Fire and work out modalities of acceeding to all of your request,” the Governor states.
At the event were the State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu; Members of the State Executive Council; Director Joint Services Department, Ministry of Interior, Mr. Peter Egbodo; Special Adviser to the Minister, Honourable Bola Ilori, Heads of Security Agencies in the State, traditional rulers and religious leaders in the state.