…Fire razes 300 shops in Santana market in Benin***
The Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare 11 told the Federal Government on Sunday, that the creation of congenial environment, sufficiently conducive for young people to achieve their set goals, remains the most vibrant option towards discouraging youths from embarking on dangerous trips, abroad.
Ewuare gave the advice when he received dignitaries, who came to felicitate with him on his third year coronation anniversary at his palace in Benin. Already, the ancient city of Benin is agog with festivities as delegates from 16 states arrived for the 2019 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), which opens today, at the University of Benin Sports Complex, Benin-City.
Ewuare also charged the Federal Government to find ways to address the precarious security situation nationwide, to save lives and property.
The monarch, however, commended the Federal Government for its initiative in tackling corruption, advising Nigerians to shun corruption and embrace discipline.
Ewuare pledged the cooperation of his subjects in ensuring peace, saying that he would sustain the legacies of his forefathers in ensuring peace and progress of his people.
He inaugurated a nine-member committee to work on the annual Oba Erediauwa Lecture Series in honour of his late father.
Meanwhile, despite the Saturday night fire, Benin is in festive mood with delegates from 16 states already in town for the 2019 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), which opens at the University of Benin Sports Complex, Benin-City, on Monday.
Accreditation of delegates started Sunday, while participating groups were busy mounting exhibition tents and arranging their wares in preparation of the festival.
Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), organiser of NAFEST, told newsmen that all the participating states would arrive for the opening ceremony by Monday, for the seven-day cultural show, organised by National Council for Arts and Culture, holding at four different venues in the ancient city, namely, Oba’s Palace, UNIBEN Sports Complex, Benin Golf Club and Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre.
One of the delegates, Mrs Ngulyaro Simon-Zaro from Adamawa State Council for Arts and Culture, said the festival would provide further cultural integration among delegates from the states.
According to her, the festival will give hope for future cultural exchange programmes, which is needed to unite the nation.
“We are here to participate in traditional wrestling, drama and local cuisine competitions, we are engaging the younger ones, to familiarize them with our culture,” she said.
Also, Dr Priscilla Aletor, a lecturer in the painting department of University of Benin, said she was excited that Benin was hosting this year’s festival, adding that the theme: “Our Royalty, Our Pride”, signifies the pride and dignity of Benin City.
Aletor, who would also be exhibiting her paintings during the festival, said she expected to connect with art lovers across the country through the platform.
In the meantime, no fewer than 300 shops and goods worth millions of Naira were on Saturday night destroyed by fire that engulfed Santana market on Sapele road in Benin, Edo.
Residents and owners of the shops could not salvage the situation due to the intensity of the fire.
Mr Monday Ogbeide, a resident around the market said the fire started at about 11pm on Saturday.
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“We just saw the market burning and we do not know the cause of the fire. All effort to put out the fire was not successful because of the intensity of the fire.
“When we got here, we called fire service but up till now they did not respond,” he said.
Ogbeide, however said he suspected the fire came from power surge that might have occurred in one of the shops in the market when power was restored at night.
Mrs Justina Amadasun, a shop owner whose shop was affected by the fire, wept saying that the shop was her only means of livelihood.
Mrs Blessing Ayo, another shop owner who sells bags of rice and fozen food, said “l lost everything to the fire.
“All the bags of rice, cartons of chicken and deep freezers, including money which l could not take home yesterday among others went with the fire.
“Nobody should come and tell me that it was power surge because for three days now we did not have light in the market.
“I am calling on the government to come to our aid because this market is where we get our daily bread.
“Some of us are single mothers, we take care of our children from the money we make here.
“Government should come and help us now, it is not only when it comes to elections that they remember us. We need them now,” Ayo said.
It was learnt that it took the effort of fire fighters from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), to put out the fire.
All effort to reach the state fire service to find out why they did not respond to the distress calls put across to them was not successful. The office of the state fire service showed that the office was under lock and key, when visited.