New Telegraph

I didn’t use charm, God was with me –Driver of burning tanker

Friday June 10 would had been a Black Day for the people of Agbahor in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State when a tanker laden with 44,000 litres fuel caught fire but the looming disaster was averted by the action of the driver, Ejiro Otarigho, who took a calculated risk that would had consumed him and hundreds of people and properties within the ever busy community.

Thinking of the enourmity of loss of lives and properties, the father of four children, instructed his conductor who was with him on that fateful day to jump out of the tanker while he safely drover the tanker, with fire bellowing out into a nearby bush, away from the people, who by this time were alarmed and ran for safety. By dint of that singular act, Otarigho has become a hero, with his act of bravery spreading across like a wild harmattan fire as he is being celebrated across board by both his people and the government.

He was on Thursday June 16 received by the Delta State government at a ceremony held in his honour at the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Chief Patrick Ukah, who on behalf of the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, presented him a cash reward of N2 million with an award plague of Delta Youth Ambassador and a Letter of Commendation for his heroic feat.

The event had in attendance also the Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr. Emmanuel Amgbaduba and his Youth Development counterpart, Comrade Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, among other top government functionaries, Otarigho’s wife, Augustina, an expectant mother, and others. The SSG commended him for his bravery while unveiling him into the new Hall of Fame of the Face of Delta and Youth Ambassadors, adding that the state government would continue to celebrate him.

Ukah said to him that; “what you did for humanity could not be translated to money but you should understand that people appreciate you for the action. Don’t stop at this but continue to do your best for humanity. You are now on the protocol list of the state as one of our Youth Ambassadors.” He also commended his wife for the support she has accorded him over the years, which culminated in the courageous display by him. Otarigho after the ceremony spoke exclusively to Saturday Telegraph, describing his action as propelled by God and nothing elsewhere. Excerpts…

Didn’t you consider your action as a big risk to your life, bearing in mind the need to have first save your life before others?

Yes, I know that the first law of survival is self-defence but in this case, I compared myself with hundreds of lives that would be destroyed. I calculated and saw that I could do something uncommon, if at all, the result would be to jump out and sustain burns. The self-defense in this case was not the case of robbery or kidnapping which involves arms struggle, it is a case of work of mercy. This was what encouraged me. As you have witnessed, God saw that the intention of my heart was pure, He crowned my effort with success. My belief is that God knows that I deserved the best in life because my heart is pure, hence He used the disaster I averted to settle me.

Many people believed that you are fortified with charms, or you were drunk on the day not to realise the risky nature of your action, which would had resulted to your death, is that correct?

(Smiles) Drink! That was out of it. I don’t engage in fetish practices. I am a true Christian. I worship with the Winners Chapel, Agbahor. I have the fear of God. ‘Thou shall not kill’, was part of what propelled me to take the risk. I have promised God that no life will be lost from my hand, either deliberately or carelessly. No charm, no drink was involved. It was purely God. And you can see how God is using my kind heartedness to bless me.

Did the thought of what would become of your pregnant wife and children ever occur to you on that day?

While I was struggling with the tanker, fully loaded with 44,000 litres of petrol, already engulfed by fire; I did not remember that I have a wife, that my children are still very young. What was uppermost in my heart was that this crowd of people must not die in my hand. This is an opportunity to save lives hence I summoned the courage, I redoubled my expertise and with a lion heart, I told my conductor to escape by jumping out of the truck, he looked at me in bewilderment and wondered whether I know the implication of what I wanted to do. But with God on my side, I delivered accordingly.

What was the reaction of the owner of the truck?

What will he do? The disaster was not deliberate. ‘God gives, and God takes, blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Humanly speaking, he can’t be happy seeing his investment being consumed by fire but I guessed he would be happier that it ended well. No life was lost.

Were your wife and children angry with you for risky your life and their future?

They expressed fear as human beings. But when I explained how much of calculations I did before embarking on the feat, gave them the statistics of lives that would have been lost, properties that would have been burnt, and the danger that I may not have survived too, they have no choice than to praise God for me.

Have you reached out to your conductor since then?

Yes, of course, he is seeing as the matter is going. It is a win-win thing. We went together, we saw together and together we have conquered. He will receive his reward.

How do you feel being celebrated by Nigerians and today honoured by your state government?

I feel on top of the world. I never expected this will come in my lifetime. It is now my lot that I became the most famous man that I am now being sought for here and there. The National Assembly is aware of my action, the governors, the House of Assembly, the oil industry and NUPENG just rewarded me, NNPC is warming up. And I am very sure the Presidency is still contemplating on my matter. I am the happiest man on earth as I speak.

What does your example teach about dignity of labour, work and prayer?

The feat I recorded has taught me that it is not only when one engages in bad act, that is, act of terrorism, kidnapping, robbery, militancy, stealing by tricks, ritual killings, that one can make money or fame in life. My example should be a lesson the youths out there that there is dignity in labour.

Read Previous

Buhari establishes National Early Warning Centre

Read Next

Kukah to deliver lecture as KSM begins 70th anniversary activities

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *