Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday paid a sympathy visit to Bauchi State over the recent windstorm and fire disasters that destroyed lives and property of residents in Bauchi and Azare towns of the state.
Buhari, who arrived the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi around 9.30am immediately proceeded to Azare town, about 200 kilometres north of the state capital, to commiserate with the people of the area over the fire incident that ravaged the central market on Sunday.
The president was received at the airport by the state Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Shehu Damina; the Director General (DG), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Maihaja; the Secretary to the State Goverment (SSG), Alhaji Muhammad Nadada Umar; and other top officials of the state.
President Buhari extended his deepest sympathies to the victims of the devastating fire incident that destroyed over 1,000 shops at Azare central market less than 24 hours after the windstorm incident that wreaked havoc in Bauchi metropolis.
According to him, “The nation stands in solidarity with their fellow countrymen in this difficult time as they face the devastation with courage and fortitude.”
The president, who was visibly touched by the level of damage caused by the inferno, said he was in Azare “to see for myself and access the devastation suffered by traders in the area”.
“I am here to personally sympathise with traders in Azare in the aftermath of the unfortunate fire incident in the market last week,” said the president.
He had earlier paid a similar visit to the Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruq Umar ll, where he sympathised with those affected by the fire incident in Azare.
He described the fire incident as a natural disaster, expressing the federal government’s sympathy.
Speaking while at the Bauchi Emir’s palace, President Buhari expressed shock over the number of structures and buildings affected by the disasters, and enjoined the victims to consider the disaster as acts of God.
Responding, the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman, described the president’s visit as a clear indication of his love for the people of the state.
Alhaji Adamu recalled that the disasters had claimed many lives and properties of the people, and appealed for government’s quick intervention to cushion the devastating effect of the incidents.
The Bauchi State Government had earlier confirmed eight people dead during the windstorm, while over 120 people sustained injuries and over 1,5000 homes were destroyed as well as over 349 schools and 3,000 electricity poles destroyed in Bauchi metropolis during the incident.
Less than 24 hours after the windstorm, fire gutted over half of the Katagum Azare market which is the second largest city after Bauchi. The fire burnt over 1,000 shops in the market.
President Buhari had earlier directed the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to lead a federal government delegation immediately to Bauchi State in the aftermath of the windstorm which destroyed an estimated 1,505 houses mainly in the state capital.
Eight persons are now confirmed dead, while 120 others have various degrees of injury.
Similarly, Azare, another major town, was struck by a major fire disaster that destroyed the market in the town a few days after.
The delegation, which also included the Director General of NEMA, Maihaja, is to undertake an assessment of the extent of damage occasioned by the natural disaster.
Already, NEMA has started mobilising relief items from its warehouses located in Damaturu and Yola for onward distribution to those displaced by the windstorm.
The aid materials had already reached Bauchi, while assessment is being conducted on the fire incident in Azare.