JOHN MKOM narrates the sad experience of residents of Badawa community in Kalim-Lamido local government area of Taraba State who are homeless, broken and shattered by a strange fire outbreak in the community.
It was a bleak and gloomy atmosphere in Badawa community in Kalim-Lamido local government area of Taraba State as survivors, families and relatives of victims of the recent fire disaster mourned inconsolably.
This is even as the impact of the fire incident that befell them have increasingly become threatening as most households in the community are predominantly farmers.
Although the official details of casualty recorded as well as the losses procured during the fire outbreak is yet to be ascertained, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the incident has left the people in untold and unspeakable hardship, hunger, pain and anguish.
Apart from houses that were burnt down, members of the community have varied stories to tell.
“We were all anticipating the rainy season, having endured the scourge of the dry season for some months. Then a windstorm came that we initially thought would give us succour and make us heave a sigh of relief signaling rainy season.
“Sadly, it was not so. Our hope was dashed. It was a windstorm accompanied by fire. We are in pain, we need help.
“I am left with the attire I am putting on. As you can see we are all hungry, we don’t have food to eat, we don’t have shelter and we don’t have cloth. We need drugs to save the lives of our children,” said Aminu Abdullahi, a resident of the community, as she sobbed uncontrollably.
She said they were already preparing to return to the farm and had stored up grains and some food crops anticipating rainy season.
Abdullahi added that their joy was cut short by the first blast of the raging windstorm as it spread with unusual speed and fury.
At the moment, the Badawa Community in Kalim-Lamido Local Government Area of Taraba State is currently in shambles following the fire disaster that occurred on Monday killing two members of the community while over 300 houses worth millions were destroyed.
The disaster which also left several families homeless and in dire need of support and assistance razed several food barns and seedlings in the community.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday visited the community which is about 72 kilometers away from Jalingo, the state capital, it was gathered that the fire outbreak was as a result of some children who were roasting maize with firewood but were coincidentally caught up by windstorms.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday a victim of the sad incident, Mr Adabu Manima, said “There was a heavy windstorm, and four children were already roasting maize behind one of a round hut in the community around 4:00 pm on Monday when it suddenly became disastrous, overpowered them and blew the fire on the houses and burnt down the whole community.
Manima said at the moment most members of the community are homeless, describing the incident as unfortunate.
He called on the government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to their rescue.
According to him, “The children were roasting maize behind a round hut that is made of grasses, sadly the windstorm came so strong that nobody could control the breeze, leading to the spread of the fire so speedy and faster.”
The president general, Bandawa Community Development Association, Mr. Mathias Mani, commiserate with the grieving residents who are predominantly farmers.
Mani said the nature of the settlement within the Bandawa community was responsible for the quick escalation of the fire outbreak.
“We are communal going by the way in which our people build their houses. It was a major reason why no building could escape the kind of fire accompanied by the windstorm that came that very day.
“Our huts are close to each other, as you can see yourself, we counted 302 houses that were burnt, two people were caught up by the fire and died immediately, foodstuff, properties, and even cash were burnt, the people here are in total shambles.”
He said Mrs Ajogi Bawuro and Mr Yuguda Livinus died during the sad incident.
Mani said the community has never experienced this kind of disaster before.
“We have not seen this kind of a disaster in our community prior to now. It is really shocking for us, there is nothing to eat, nothing to go to the farm with, and nothing to go out to look for what to eat.
Mani said the Senator representing Taraba North at the National Assembly Sen. Shuaibu Lau and a member representing Karim-Lamido II at the state house of assembly Hon. Charles Meijankai have so far visited the victims to commiserate with them and bring succour to their needs.
The president general called on the government at all levels, well-meaning individuals and organisations to help the people of the community out of their present predicament.
The chairman Karim Lamido Local Government Council, Markus Hamidu, who was in the community to sympathise with the Bandawa Community over the fire outbreak that led to the death of two persons during the time of LEADERSHIP Sunday visited the community.
Speaking in an interview at the scene of the disaster, the chairman called on those affected to be calm as the government is making frantic efforts to assist them.
He assured them that the administration of Governor Darius Ishaku tagged the “Rescue Mission” will definitely come to their aid.
The chairman also assured the victims of his council support after consultations and deliberations with local government officials.
Hamidu called on spirited individuals to quickly come to the aid of the displaced persons.
He also commended the efforts of members of the community for rallying around the victims of the fire disaster.
Victims of the fire outbreak particularly women and children were seen battling to survive in ashes while their breadwinners were said to have embarked on hard labour in the neighboring communities to get food for their immediate families.
Efforts to speak to Taninga Binga, the state commissioner for humanitarian affairs prove abortive as the commissioner was not in his office to comment on the incident.