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The fire this time

By Sam Umukoro
06 November 2021   |   3:36 am
No treasure can be as valuable as a life. This veracity was profound last Saturday. The LandCruiser, Jeep, Mercedes Benz, Toyota Camry, the million Naira deals didn’t matter – my life was more important than all the money and cars in the world.

No treasure can be as valuable as a life. This veracity was profound last Saturday. The LandCruiser, Jeep, Mercedes Benz, Toyota Camry, the million Naira deals didn’t matter – my life was more important than all the money and cars in the world.

Days after the explosion, I still walk in a dizzy spell of astonishment at God’s goodness and saving grace. The incident has spawned a lot of stories of how many people have died from that kind of blast, or have been scarred for life. Every sympathiser who came to visit had one story or the other about death from similar incidents.

How would I explain that a short business trip to Nigeria almost resulted in a near death experience? If I were a Nigerian politician, I would have blamed the explosion on my detractors, or the opposition party, or my opponent in an election. The press would have been inundated with stories of how I narrowly escaped death.

But I have no one to blame. Simply, I live with the gratitude that God saved me. I still cannot understand how the blast from the generator did not leave me scorched, scarred, or killed. I have been assailed with questions from all and sundry: did you use your phone while switching on the generator? Did you pour petrol while the generator was on? All manner of questions and conjectures have been raised.

However, I did not do any of these.

I had left my house to renew my DSTV subscription. Got back home and decided to switch on the generator to ensure my subscription had been renewed. My phones were in my car. I walked confidently to the generator house, a routine I had done more than a thousand times over the years. I switched on the generator with the key and boom, the blast!

The generator house was engulfed in fire. My goatee was singed; my face and my leg were hurting from the flame as I quickly ran out of the generator house. I felt a searing pain as if the fire was lit inside me and my bones were burning.

All hell was truly let loose. Pandemonium broke out; in all this my brother had the presence of mind to tell me to drive my car out of the compound. He had flung the gate open while calling for help from my neighbours in the estate. In their droves, they came: husbands, wives, boys, girls, all hands were on deck to battle the inferno. I was in pain. I had made the mistake of pouring water all over my body before a neighbour quickly asked me to get some eggs which she broke and rubbed all over my face and body.

Fortunately, my aunty was around the corner, an SOS call had been placed to her, so she rushed down and took me to the hospital with my friend Kester.

We got to the hospital in no time, luckily for me the perennial Lagos traffic was on sabbatical. At the hospital, they wanted a deposit of N100,000 before they could attend to me. My aunty was livid and told them we could not foot the bill immediately but they should attend to me considering my case was an emergency.

At that point, I almost broke down in tears, not from the pain from the fire, but from how low we have sunk in Nigeria. After haggling, raving and ranting, I was admitted eventually after we paid a 10,000 Naira deposit. As they say in Nigerian home videos: To God Be The Glory. I am out of the hospital now. I will be returning to England in a few days time. I am so grateful to be alive to tell the story and dream dreams. This is a rebirth like a phoenix that has risen from the ashes of death. I still cannot stop praising God for escaping with minor burns, and my face was not scarred, as I feared.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I went through fire and came out unscathed. Some invisible presence must have been with me. There are some things beyond human reasoning.

Nevertheless, if we have constant power supply in Nigeria, what business do we have with generators? Sadly we seem to be faced now with the hazards of the solutions we have created for the failure of our successive governments to provide constant power supply. Where do we run to for safety?

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