By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sympathised withÂ Bauchi State over the recent windstorm and fire disaster that destroyed lives and property of residents in Bauchi and Azare towns of the state.
Buhari who arrived at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi, aroundÂ 9.30 a.m. 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 last Sunday.
The president was received at the AirportÂ Â by the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed AbdullahiÂ Abubakar; Speaker, state House of Assembly, Hon Shehu Damina; DG National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, the SecretaryÂ Â to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Muhammad Nadada Umar,Â and other top officials.
President Buhari extended his sympathy to the victims and families of the devastatingÂ Â fire incident thatÂ destroyed over 1,000 shops at Azare central market less than 24 hours after the windstorm incident thatÂ wreaked havoc in Bauchi metropolis.
According to him, â€œThe country stands in solidarity with their fellow countrymen in this difficult time as they face the devastation with courage and fortitude.â€
The president who was visibly touched by the level of damages caused by the inferno said he was in Azare â€œto see for myself and access the devastationÂ Â suffered by traders in the area.
â€œI am here to personally sympathise with traders in Azare in the aftermath of the unfortunate fire incident in the market last weekâ€ Buhari said.
President Buhari 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.
He described the fire incident as a natural disaster, expressing federal governmentâ€™s sympathy.
Speaking while at Bauchi Emirâ€™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 an act of God.
Responding, the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Suleiman,Â Â described the Presidentâ€™s visit as a clear indication of his love forÂ Â the people of the state.
Adamu recalled that the disasters had claimed many lives and properties of the people and appealed for governmentâ€™s quick intervention to cushion the devastating effect of the incidents.
The Bauchi State Government had earlier confirmed that eight people lost their lives during the windstorm while over 120 people sustained injury and over 1,500 homes were destroyed as well as over 349 schools and 3000 electric poles destroyed in Bauchi metropolis during the incident
It would be recalled that President Buhari had earlierÂ Â 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 reported various degrees of injury.
The delegation which also included the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Yunusa 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.