In the ground and off the page: why we’re banning ads from fossil fuels extractors | Membership | The Guardian

dog

In a bid to reduce our carbon footprint, confront greenwashing and increase our focus on the climate crisis, the Guardian this week announced it will no longer run ads from fossil fuel extractors alongside any of its content in print or online. The move will come into immediate effect, and follows the announcement in October last year that we intend to reduce our net emissions to zero by 2030.

Once upon a time, a newspaper was a rather straightforward business. You generated enough material of interest to attract a significant number of readers. You then ‘sold’ those readers to advertisers happy to pay to get their ideas, products or brands in front of consumers with cash to spend.

Of course, digital disruption over the past 20 years has upended that model, but advertising remains an important part of the media business ecosystem. At the Guardian, it is still responsible for about two-fifths of our income.

But what happens when the readers don’t like the adverts? What do you do when the message that advertisers want to spread jars awkwardly with the work your journalists are doing?

What if your journalists are some of the best in the world at revealing and investigating the deepening climate catastrophe and the disaster that is fossil fuel growth, while some of your advertisers are the very people digging the stuff out of the ground?

This contradiction has bothered us – and some of you – for some time. We came up with a rather bold answer this week: turn away the money and double down on the journalism.

“It’s something we thought about for a long time,” says Anna Bateson, the interim chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group, the Guardian’s parent company. “We always felt it was in line with our editorial values but were cautious for commercial reasons.”

She said it was the logical next step after the Guardian committed last year to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and was certified as a B Corp – a company that puts purpose before profit. But she added that the move had to be weighed carefully, given the fact that the Guardian only recently returned to breakeven after years in the red.

“You have to be careful you are not making cavalier decisions,” she said. “ We are still having to fight for our financial future. But because of the support we get from our readers, it is less of a risk.”

On the advertising side of our business, Adam Foley said there were no complaints at all that potential customers were suddenly off-limits, adding that staff felt that “being part of a company that shares their values” was the biggest motivation for his teams.

“A statement like this reaffirms to all of us that we’re contributing to a business that really lives those values – to the extent where it is prepared to sacrifice profit for purpose.”

The response from the wider world has been a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of you have written in, pledging your support, and in some cases, one-off contributions to start making up the shortfall. (EDS: See below – I’m going to append the best responses below. In print you can use as the panel)

The environmental movement was instantly appreciative, with activists quickly urging our peers to follow suit. “The Guardian will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies,” Greta Thunberg tweeted. “A good start, who will take this further?” Greenpeace called it “a huge moment in the battle against oil and gas for all of us.”

Some readers have been calling for the Guardian to go the whole hog and forsake advertising from any company with a substantial carbon footprint. Bateson said that was not realistic, adding that such a move would result in less money for journalism. She said the fossil fuel extractors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to skew the climate change debate through their lobbying effort.

“We are committed to advertising,” she said. “It will continue to be part of our future. We want advertisers who want to be appear alongside our high quality journalism.”

And how will we know if this has worked?
“We will listen to our readers, we will listen to our advertisers. The response so far has been gratifying. If we continue to hear positive noises from our readers and supporters, then it will have been a success.”




Pinterest

Responses from our supporters

That is such a brilliant decision and it will be tough, but it is the correct one and I am very proud of The Guardian. Barbara Syer

Following the Guardian’s decision to ban ads from fossil fuel companies I’m making a monthly contribution to support its fearless journalism: reader support is essential for independent scrutiny of the powerful in business, finance and politics. Titus Alexander, Hertfordshire, England

I live at present in Canada, home to the Alberta Tar Sands: another name for ecological devastation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. I fully support The Guardian’s action in ceasing to be a vehicle for advertising by fossil fuel extractive companies, and I’m proud to be a supporter. My monthly donation is small, but when I can I will make it much greater. Rosemary Delnavine, Canada

Congratulations. At this time it may be a bold step, indeed, within this industry, but true leaders have to take bold steps for the betterment of the quality of life, and more importantly for the life of future generations. I applaud this decision, and will spread the word. Raphael Sulkovitz, Boston MA

What a bravery! This is what the life on earth needs, thank you. Karri Kuikka, Finland (EDS: please leave her wonderful Finglish intact!)

Keep it up. Here in Canada, we’re still trying to have it both ways — sell the product internationally but discourage buying domestically. As I recall, it was the same with tobacco. Eventually, it took a change in public opinion to solve the problem. As a news source, your efforts are part of this solution. Robert Shotton, Ottawa

I applaud your decision to”walk the talk.” I will therefore continue to contribute to The Guardian. Bob Wagenseil

Bravo yr decision to eschew $ from the FFI. Please do continue to hold to the fire(s) the feet of the deniers and the willfully ignorant. Sydney Alonso, Vermont, US

I am very happy to hear that good news. It’s quite courageous on your part, and I’m happy to support you! Have a great year ahead, you’ll have my continuous support! Julien Psomas

I completely support your plan to refuse ads from fossils, despite the
financial hit to the Guardian. I have made a donation to help out. David Thompson

A very commendable decision, very much in keeping with the Guardian’s position as leader of green issues to leave a better planet for following generations. Richard Vernon, Oxford

Yay! I’m so proud of the Guardian! We can no longer support or fund in any manner the fossil fuel industry if we have any chance of survival as a civilization on this planet. You’ve taken a courageous and moral step that will hopefully embolden others to join you. Good on you! Best, Carol Ross, Missouri, US

Good decision. I’ll support you as much as I can, which unfortunately is not much as I live on age pension only. Keep up the good work, we need it desperately! Ursula Brandt, South Australia

I am absolutely delighted by this decision. So many people pledge to do something about Climate Change, but few actually are willing to get uncomfortable and DO it. I am very proud of you as my favourite source of Information and this only makes a case for me to donate next time to you again. Christiane Gross

It was great reading what The Guardian is doing re the climate. As a Guardian on-line reader from The Netherlands I’m going to contribute monthly now instead of ‘now and again’. The amount will be relatively small as I do not have a great income. I really hope more of your supporters will do so, because it is really great what you are doing.
With kind regards, Aleida Oostendorp, Netherlands

I congratulate you and your team on taking this step regarding fossil fuel companies. The Guardian’s stance on the environment and its excellent coverage of related stories and events is the major reason for my support. Well done, and good luck in the future. Deirdre Moore

Love your new policy about accepting money from fossil fuels. Will contribute more to help make up for the shortfall. Todd Misk

I live on a fixed income with a strict budget so my continuing support of your excellent news organisation represents my commitment to the fight to address climate change. Every step counts. Barbara Hirsch, Texas, US

Only when we speak truth to power can change take place. thank yo for your courageous and expensive decision. Nancy Shepherd, Vermont, US

Love your journalism, especially your investigative work and the climate change topic. And with the bold statement about not receiving any more sponsorship from the fossil extracting companies? Well, the already great newspapers became even more impressive now. Keep up the good work. Miroslav Řezníček, Czech Republic

Thank you for taking the bold step of refusing advertising from fossil fuel extractive companies. I think it is the right thing to do & hope many more companies do the same. We must all work together if we want to save our planet. It is one of the most important issues of our times. Ginger Comstock, New York, US

Related posts

Pirates Inbox: Chris Archer, Chad Kuhl | Pittsburgh Pirates

person baseball glove

PITTSBURGH — The holiday break is over and the new year is upon us, which means it’s time to kick the Hot Stove talk to another level. While the Pirates finalize their roster with an eye on Opening Day, we’ll answer some of the questions you’ve sent to the Pirates Inbox.

The Pirates are short on great starting options, so the chance of this is small. But, say they trade or acquire a starter and Mitch Keller and Chad Kuhl look good. Any chance they could try Chris Archer as a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if they trade Keone Kela? He seems to be his best as a two-pitch pitcher and he’s an emotional guy. It seems like he could be a great reliever.
–Jason D.

It’s an interesting question, and it may not take an additional starter to bump somebody out of the rotation on Opening Day. Take a look at their top options heading into the new year, and you can easily come up with six pitchers worth taking a long look at: Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Archer, Keller, Steven Brault and Kuhl.

I think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen, but I don’t think it’d be Archer. He’s 31 years old and hasn’t made a relief appearance since the 2013 American League Division Series. His value, when he’s right, is as a durable starter — and it would make sense for the Pirates to try to maximize that value while they can.

That’s true, by the way, whether he’s on the team or a potential trade candidate. If he’s with the Pirates, you’re hoping that a new pitching coach will help him get back to his 2013-17 form. If you’re Pirates management and you’re also viewing him as a trade asset down the line, you could probably get more out of him as the starter he used to be rather than as an experimental reliever.

I definitely agree with your point that Archer, as primarily a two-pitch guy who tends to play with more emotion than your average starter, might be an interesting back-end reliever at some point. That said, his biggest issues last year were walks and homers; being prone to either would immediately spell trouble for him out of the bullpen, and there’s no guarantee that moving to a relief role would fix those problems.

But I do think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen. I’d be really curious to see if Kuhl could work his way into a late-inning role. When he spoke near the end of the season, for what it’s worth, he said he was preparing to come back as a starter.

But I’ve heard from more than one player who thinks Kuhl has closer stuff — a high-90s fastball with a bunch of offspeed offerings that he could sharpen, refine and use more selectively when he doesn’t have to turn over a lineup three times. It’d be interesting to see, at least.

The risk there is pretty obvious: Kuhl is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and he’s been a starter his entire life. How would his arm respond to throwing multiple days in a row? How careful would the Pirates have to be with a potentially important arm in their bullpen? Do they really want to risk sending him to the mound 50 times or more when he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since June 2018?

On the other hand, moving Kuhl to the bullpen would naturally restrict his workload in terms of innings and pitches thrown. There would be no expectation that he’d have to throw more than 70 or so innings out of the bullpen, probably even fewer than that.

Outside of a few pitchers, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster last season. But it might be an interesting group with Kela, a healthy Edgar Santana and Nick Burdi, a bounce-back year from Kyle Crick, a more consistent Richard Rodriguez, a still-developing Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, a long man like Chris Stratton and the potential addition of Kuhl.

Who was the player to be named later that the Pirates got from Philadelphia for Corey Dickerson?
–Bob K.

Turns out, there wasn’t one. The Trade Deadline deal was initially announced as Dickerson for $250,000 in international slot space and a player to be named later, but there was no player sent back to the Pirates.

The way the whole thing played out was strange. Every report out of Philadelphia at the time of the trade indicated there would be no player coming back, and everything I heard also signaled that the deal was just for additional international spending capacity. But for whatever reason, when the move went down, the announcement included a player to be named later … who was never named, even five months later.

After we talked at the Winter Meetings out in San Diego, my MLB.com colleague Todd Zolecki and I made one more push for information and only heard back that, “It was a cash deal.” It wouldn’t necessarily be unusual if that meant the Phillies sent the Pirates cash instead of a minor prospect; some trades allow for the final piece to be a PTBNL or cash. But that wasn’t mentioned in the initial announcement of the Dickerson deal, and there was no clarification as to whether that meant additional cash or just the international slot we already knew about.

It’s not like the Pirates gave away Dickerson for nothing — teams can turn $250,000 of international spending space into a good prospect or prospects — but I hope nobody was getting their hopes up about that PTBNL.

With a first-time manager, shouldn’t the Pirates have hired a more experienced bench coach to help with strategy? I love Donnie Kelly, but just wondering if it’s too much, too soon.
–Terry L., Pittsburgh

That’s usually how teams support a first-time manager, but I don’t know if it was necessary for Derek Shelton. For one, he’s a first-time manager, but he’s managed in the Minors, coached for more than a decade and spent two years as a very involved bench coach. It’s not like he’s jumping into the dugout with no relevant experience.

Second, Kelly spent the last year working closely with Astros manager AJ Hinch and bench coach Joe Espada. He was essentially training to be a bench coach, whether it was here, Houston or elsewhere. And in terms of in-game strategy, he spent most of his playing career thinking along with the manager. He’s prepared.

There is also experience elsewhere on the coaching staff, primarily in the form of third-base coach Joey Cora. He served as a Minor League manager as well as a big league bench coach and interim manager in the Majors before joining Pittsburgh’s staff. You’ll just about always find Cora on the top step of the dugout, closely following the game. He’ll help, too.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Related posts

Whakaari/White Island: Official death toll rises to 17 | Stuff.co.nz

The official death toll from the Whakaari/White Island eruption has risen to 17 after a victim died in hospital on Sunday.

Deputy Commissioner John Tims confirmed the death on Monday morning.

He said the person died while in Middlemore Hospital on Sunday night, with police being advised shortly before 11pm.

The person’s death brings the official number of deceased to 17. Of the deaths, 16 died in New Zealand and one in Australia.

Whakaari/White Island erupted at 2.11pm on December 9.

The official toll, from the December 9 eruption, does not include two people still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.

They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian teenager Winona Langford, 17.

Marshall-Inman was farewelled in a memorial in Whakatāne on Friday where he was remembered as a “superman”, a “hero” and, now, a “guardian of Whakaari”.

The search for the two missing was scaled back late last week when Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement admitted they’d so far been unsuccessful in their search.

The search was now being handled by Bay of Plenty police.

District commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said an extensive aerial search for further victims of the Whakaari/White Island eruption between the island and the mainland was conducted by Coastguard and police over the weekend.

No further items of significance were located, he said in a statement on Monday.

Police will review the search area to date and make a decision on further search activity, he said.

In a press conference on Thursday Clement described how much it hurt his staff that they hadn’t been able to return them.

COMPOSITE: SUPPLIED
The official toll does not include Winona Langford and Hayden Marshall-Inman who are still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.

They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian tennager Winona Langford, 17.

“It hurts us and it hurts our people,” he said.

He also revealed that police divers at one stage were “within metres” of recovering Marshall-Inman’s body when it was believed to have been sighted in the water near Whakaari’s jetty on December 11.

“The reality was the conditions of the ocean meant they could not get close,” Clement said.

“The people on that day have thought long and hard about that. It’s what they come here to do. They’re disappointed. They backed themselves to retrieve a body and they missed out.”

Last week, Middlemore Hospital announced that more than 600 elective surgeries were set to be delayed as they dealt with the eruption’s aftermath.

WHAKATANE BEACON
Hayden Marshall-Inman’s brother, Mark Inman, spoke during Friday’s memorial.

In the first week following the eruption, the National Burns Service – hosted by south Auckland’s Middlemore, but including centres at Waikato, Hutt Valley and Christchurch hospitals – saw more burns than it typically would in a year.

On Friday John Cartwright, incident controller of Counties Manukau DHB’s incident management team, said the extent of burns the Whakaari patients experienced required many operating theatre hours, on multiple days, by large surgical and anaesthetic teams.

The nature of the burns suffered was complicated by the gasses and chemicals present in the eruption. That meant surgeries had to be carried out more rapidly than was the case for “thermal only” burns.

Waikato Hospital took in the largest load of patients, eight critically injured, on the evening of the disaster.

Last week trauma director Grant Christey said it appeared as masks protected the lungs of people caught in the eruption.

“We thought there would be a lot more lung injuries, as well, from inhalation,” Christey said.

“What we learned later, from the people who went out there, was most of [the tourists] had gas masks on,” he said. They put their gas masks firmly on their faces and closed their eyes and tried to get through it.”

Related posts

Against the Death Cult: We Must Not Let Ruthless Ideologues Destroy the Climate and Kill Us All

person tie
Agriculture

The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.

Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta. 

We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin. 

Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.

The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.

Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it. 

We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.

If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual. 

To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.

Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable. 

A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.   

Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power. 

We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.   

Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media. 

Related posts

Obituary of woman and her 8-month-old son burnt to death in Onitsha fire accident – YabaLeftOnline

person

34-year-old Ifeoma Deborah Obi and her son, Chisimdi Victory Obi were burnt to death in the fire accident which occurred in Onitsha few weeks ago.

Both will be laid to rest on Friday November 15, in Awka-Etiti, Anambra State.

Reps to investigate Onitsha fire outbreak

The House of Representatives has resolved to mandate its committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the recent fire outbreak in Onitsha, Anambra State.

This resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by Okwudili Ezenwankwo and 2 others on Tuesday.

Moving the motion, Ezenwankwo said the fire outbreak, which was caused by petroleum tanker, claimed 6 lives as Federal Fire Service could not contain the inferno.

He noted that if the investigation is not done, then a future occurrence is possible.

Adding that National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has failed to provide relief material to over 2,000 people turned homeless and 500 shops consumed by the inferno.

“The fire outbreak at Upper Iweka/Ochanja Market took the lives of at least six (6) persons and left many injured.

“Over thirty (30) vehicles, over fifty (50) houses (some with warehouses and street shops) and over five hundred (500) market lockup shops were razed by the fire incident.

“The fire outbreak of Upper Iweka/Ochanja Market has rendered over two thousand (2,000) hardworking people homeless, jobless and robbed them of their means of livelihood.

“Worried that after the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) rapid assessment of the incident, no feasible steps have been taken to ameliorate the hardship caused to the victims of this fire outbreak.

“If the immediate and remote causes of the fire incidents are not determined, a proper measure to forestall future fire outbreak might not be guaranteed,” he stated.

The House, therefore, resolved to “urge the Federal Government to order for immediate investigation of the cause of the fire incident.

“Call on the Federal Government to establish a Federal Fire Service Station In Onitsha, Anambra State.

“Call on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to send relief materials to the victims of Onitsha fire incidents.”

Read Also: 👇🏾

Related posts

Angry reactions, as death toll rises in Onitsha tragedy

3 more dead bodies found in Ochanja market

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu & Omeiza Ajayi

THREE more dead bodies were recovered, yesterday, at the Ochanja Market in Onitsha, which got burnt when a tanker filled with fuel caught fire at the Upper Iweka area of the commercial city.

This came as Governor Willie Obiano invited the affected traders to assemble at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka on Monday for documentation and possible assistance from the state government.

Two of the dead bodies were suspected to be salesgirls in one of the burnt  shops, while the other male body was found in another shop close to the scene of the fire incident.

Yesterday, the traders constituted themselves into rescue groups and were packing the debris, only to discover the three dead bodies.

Some of the traders almost threatened to cause riot when they were informed that Governor Obiano was coming to sympathize with them.

The governor, who visited the scene at about 9.20am for on the spot assessment of the disaster, could however not enter the burnt market.

Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Don Adinuba, in a statement said Governor Obiano and the entire people of Anambra State regret the unfortunate situation, adding that the state government had taken steps to address the concerns of those affected.

He said: “ Government therefore requests owners of properties affected by the tragic accident, shop owners and family members of deceased victims to assemble at Ekwueme  Square, Awka on Monday October 21 2019 at 11am for documentation and to see how the Anambra State government can assist them.

“ A panel headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke has been set up by the governor to immediately determine the cause of the accident, why the firemen could not put out the fire and how the condition of the victims can be ameliorated.

“Governor Obiano and all citizens of Anambra State identify with victims of this unfortunate fire incident and the general inhabitants of Onitsha over this sad inferno. The Anambra State government will do it’s best to stand by those affected.

“Government therefore calls on all citizens to remain calm in the face of this disaster and be reassured of government’s commitment to the well- being of all and sundry.”

He explained that security agencies in the state had been directed to ensure that law and order were maintained within and around  the affected areas.

Former member of House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye said it was a sad day for Anambra State, regretting the enormous loss of lives and property.

He added: “I empathise with the families of the dead victims and  those who lost properties to the inferno. I urge them to show courage and utmost faith in the Creator. The sun will still shine on them all

“This accident has become too recurring in Anambra and should worry everyone. The collaboration of the government, relevant stakeholders and the citizens, is needed to develop a proactive strategy that will forestall any further occurrence of this nature. Never again shall we witness anything such as this.

“This is a time for us to show faith in our state and rally around the victims of the carnage. I call on Anambra people to come to the aid of the victims and collectively give them support to rebuild their businesses and overcome their grief. It is indeed a troubling time and we must have to show that brotherly spirit and love that make us Ndi Anambra at this time.”

In his reaction, the Director General of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief George Moghalu, called on the state government and other influential people in the state to come to the aid of the victims.

He added: ”I am saddened at the loss of lives and we never wish for incidents like these in our dear state.

“I urge the Anambra State government to do what it is supposed to do to ensure that the traders continue to earn a living.”

One of the victims, Mr. Chukwuka Okeke, a neighbour to the woman who died with her baby in the fire incident, described the tragedy as unfortunate but avoidable.

According to him, it was not up to twenty minutes he chatted with the woman before she was consumed in the inferno.

In an emotion-laden voice, he said: “We were in our shops when I got the call that there was fire incident at  Iweka. Though we saw smoke going up from a distance, nobody could believe it would extend to this place.

“For over three hours, we were perceiving the smell of fuel mixed with gas from the tanker as it flowed through the drainage until the whole thing went up in flames.

“The woman had already rushed out of the shop with her baby when she suddenly went back. But she slipped and fell inside the gutter, which was already in flames.”

Okeke said the woman whose husband also owns a shop in the city, had the baby early this year after 16 years of marriage.

“She got married in 2003 but had her first baby early this year. It’s really a tragedy,” Okeke said.

Efforts to speak with some landlords whose houses were burnt along Upper Iweka Road proved abortive as some, who were around were still in deep shock and their children could not speak for them.

One of them, who managed to speak but did not give his name, said he is devastated and cannot able to quantify what he had lost.

He said: “I cannot even do any quantification of my losses and you know my tenants also lost greately in goods and house hold items.

“Today is not the time to speak. We are still in great shock. This incident is not because we are careless, but something that happened in far away Upper Iweka and here we are counting loss on Iweka Road.”

Other affected traders in the incident along Menax, Iweka Road and Zik Avenue by Ochanja Market Roundabout also declined to speak with Vanguard, saying they are still counting losses and will not be able to give account of what they have lost.

When Vanguard visited the Ochanja Market and Zik Avenue, angry traders were seen salvaging, in pains and bitterness, some goods they felt could still be useful while others whose wares and shops were burnt completely, were bemoaning their losses and raining insults on all the relevant authorities that could not come to their rescue.

Speaking with Vanguard, Chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Mr. Nelson Ojukwu confirmed that five shops inside Ochanja Market were burnt, adding that but for his traders and the leadership of the market who mobilised water tankers, the whole market and the surrounding buildings would have burnt to ashes.

Ojukwu called on the Anambra State government to provide the markets with fire-fighting trucks to alleviate the sufferings and losses the traders and individual house owners incure during fire incidents.

How mob stopped firefighters

Meanwhile, the Federal Fire Service, FFS, has expressed sadness over the loss of lives and properties during the fire outbreak, saying its men were stopped by a mob, who pelted its officials with stones and equally blocked the road.

Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service, Liman Ibrahim, who disclosed this in a statement by Service Public Relations Officer, DSF Ugo Huan, said the nearest fire station to the scene is in Asaba, Delta State.

His words: “The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak at about 2p.m. The control room at the headquarters in Abuja immediately turned out the nearest Federal Fire Service Station at Asaba, Delta State, to attend to the fire.

“Our men immediately headed to the scene, but it was not possible to contend with the traffic at the head bridge and the behaviour of angry mob who pelted stones at them.”

Related posts

Rumours of a Third Term and a wedding

FOR much of July 2011, as I reported on this page back then, nothing filled me with so much foreboding as a telephone call from Nigeria, or from a fellow expatriate Nigerian in the United States.

Not that I dreaded being woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning by an insistent phone call informing me that the son of my grand-aunt’s younger nephew has secured admission to the Federal University of Kutuwengi’s coveted programme in cassava technology, and that unless I cabled the sum of N100, 000 immediately by way of a non-refundable deposit, the offer would go to another.

I had been given a tutorial by a fellow expatriate Nigerian on how to handle such matters.

“Tell the caller,” my tutor counseled, “tell the caller how genuinely delighted you are that the youngest son of your grand-aunt’s nephew had secured a place in the prohibitively competitive cassava technology programme at UniKutuwengi (UK).

Impress it upon the caller that the young man is even more fortunate in other ways because the vice chancellor of UK is your bosom friend and the professor of cassava propagation, who also happens to be the dean of the faculty of cassava technology, is none other than your favourite brother-in-law.”

Then, the clincher:  “Tell the caller to ask the young man to kindly send for ease of reference, a copy of his letter of admission so that you could cable the deposit directly to your good friend the vice chancellor at UK, or to the professor of cassava propagation.

“You would never hear from them again,” my tutor had assured me.

My discomfiture stemmed from the previously rumoured, speculated, suspected, widely-believed, and finally incipient “Third Term.”

Whenever the phone rang and I identified a Nigerian voice at the other end, I began to have that sinking feeling. I could feel it in my bones that the caller had nothing other than the so-called “Third Term” on his mind.  And I was right for the most part.

The calls usually began on a casual, even languid note, with “Bawo ni?” or “Hao nao?” But I had learned not to be fooled by such a gambit, nor by the preliminaries that followed, no matter how diverting or long-drawn.

Not a moment too soon, the callers got going.

“How is Baba these days?” they would ask casually, almost absent-mindedly.

“Which Baba?” I would reply, spoiling for an opening to play interrogator.

“Baba President,” they would rejoin.  OBJ.”

“How would I know from this distance?  Why don’t you ask Femi Fani-Kayode?”

“Ah!” the callers would exclaim in terror. “He will curse the daylight out of us for daring to ask.”

“No, he won’t,” I would assure them. “As a born-again Christian and an ordained deacon, Femi Fani-Kayode doesn’t curse.  And if you are only asking after Baba’s health and not dabbling into the great issues of state, he will thank you for your interest in Baba and praise you for your patriotism.  He might even pencil you down for a federal appointment.”

“From all that I have read and heard, Baba has not said he is interested in a Third Term,” I  would tell them with as much conviction as I could muster.

“If he is not interested, why can’t he come out straight to say so and thus put an end to all the speculation and all the nasty things people have been saying about him?”

“For reasons of state, no doubt. Raison d’état.  But I can’t speak for Baba. You really must

ask Chief Fani-Kayode.  I can give you his phone number.”

A second invocation of that name was usually enough to dissuade the caller from pursuing this pesky inquiry.

The conversations — such as they were — with callers who opened with a “Hao nao?” usually took a different tack.  No dancing around; they went straight into business.

“Nna, this Third-Term thing is now spreading like bush fire. What’s the latest?”

“My brother, this avian ’flu is a really terrible thing,” I would reply.  “Just imagine, our  people can’t even eat ordinary chicken again.   Our poultry farmers are finished. Hundreds of thousands of birds dead.  And now there is the fear that humans may be afflicted too.  It is really terrible.”

“Na so we see am o,” my brother. Very sad.  But this is about Obasanjo’s Third-Term plot.

“Alleged plot,” I would cut in.

“Alleged my foot,” one such caller shot back, aspirating with a force that almost blew out my eardrum. “Your Yoruba people have endorsed it.  Are you saying they have endorsed a mere allegation?”

“It’s the governors of the Yoruba-speaking states that endorsed it. The South-South, South-East governors have also endorsed it Even Ohanaeze has embraced it.  And it cannot be long before the Arewa people follow suit.  “Senator Ibrahim Mantu who coordinated consultations across the country has said that everywhere he went, he found a strong national consensus favouring a Third, and possibly a Fourth Term.

“The whole thing began like a crazy joke. And now, it looks as if they just might pull it off, like this is some banana republic.  How did they do it?”

“You must ask Andy Uba.  And Tony Anenih, the master fixer. I can give you Anenih’s GSM number.”

No response.

“Hello. . . . Hello. . .”

Still no response.  End of conversation

These were persons hoping to enter party politics one day.  It must have been drilled into them that the fear of The Fixer is the fundamental law of political practice in Nigeria.

Memories of these skirmishes came flooding back when it was bruited the other day that President Muhammadu Buhari might seek a Third Term.  Handbills and posters soon surfaced           in Abuja and elsewhere urging Buhari to bid for a Third Term, even as the Next Level Agenda  for his present and last term as consecrated in the Constitution is yet to gain traction.  A motley crowd of placard-carrying Third-Term protagonists put an exclamation mark on the matter.

The Presidency has disavowed any such intent.  Yet the rumours have persisted.

And I suspect that now, as in 2011, it would be a matter of time before I am inundated with requests for insight and analysis on the matter, even though I do not relate to Buhari the way I related to former President Obasanjo.

But that is the least of my worries.  I am concerned with the far more treacherous terrain ahead.

Lately, they have been linking His Excellency the President and the Honorable Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Intervention and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouk, romantically.  They even went so far as to put it about that they were to be joined in matrimony last Friday.

This purported heads-up sent the Muslim faithful, all manner of supplicants and those seeking nothing but voyeuristic thrill flocking to the National Mosque in Abuja to witness the historic event.

They all went home disappointed.

In the wake of all this, Buhari’s wife Aisha, who had been away in the UK ended her extended vacation in the UK and returned to Nigeria.

Requests for my reactions to these developments as a veteran public affairs analyst cannot be  long in coming, I fear.

Here, upfront, is my response:  I am not aware of any link between the alleged presidential dalliance and Aisha Buhari’s precipitate return to base.  I have no thoughts, no comments, and  no insights whatsoever regarding these developments, nor what they portend for a Third Term or The Other Room.

I will not let anyone goad me into perdition.

The floods now devouring large swathes of the country are going to keep the Hon Minister for Disaster Relief fully engaged for a long time.

So, rest easy, all ye stakeholders.

•For comments, send SMS to 08111813080

Related posts

Wedding alert: Hundreds of faithful join Buhari to perform Juma’at Prayer at

person

President Muhammadu Buhari and hundreds of Muslim faithful on Friday observed the weekly two raka’at prayer at the Aso Rock Mosque, Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that presidential aides, some cabinet ministers and former governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, were among the personalities at the mosque.

NAN also observed that today’s Friday prayer witnessed seemingly unprecedented number of faithful in what appeared to be an attempt by some “curious worshippers’’ to confirm or disbelief social media story on a purported marriage saga involving the president.

NAN reports that on Oct. 10, a social media story on President Buhari getting set to marry the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, as the second wife, went viral.

The media post, which stated Oct. 11 as the wedding date, was also widely circulated on the social media with Facebook and Twitter users aiding its circulation.

However, those worshippers, who were at the Aso Rock mosque to witness `’the social media `created’ wedding Fatiha’’, were disappointed as they only witnessed Buhari exchanging pleasantries with citizens after the prayer session.

Some of the worshippers, who spoke to NAN on the incident, showered curses on originators of the “fake wedding story’’ which dominated the social media for weeks.

Alhaji Aliyu Mudi condemned those behind the fake news, calling on well-meaning citizens to always shun unverified social media reports.

Another social commentator, who simply gave his name as Malam Siddique, called on the Federal Government to urgently do something about fake news in the social media “before it is too late’’.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was on Friday quoted by the Tribune Online dismissing the news, saying it is “a deceptive manoeuvre by those who fabricated the news’’.

NAN also reports that the minister mentioned in the fake marriage, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, who is currently in Switzerland on official assignment, posted on her twitter handle saying the news was far from the truth.

“Dear Nigerians, please kindly ignore all rumours as this is not true.

“We are currently completely focused on making sure we have a better Nigeria.

“Lets continue to pray for our dear country Nigeria. God bless,’’ she said. (NAN)

Related posts

Emmys 2019: Fleabag and Game of Thrones win big on Brit-dominated night

Phoebe Waller-Bridges comedy was the surprise victor while the final season of HBOs fantasy drama picked up the most Emmy awards

Awards and prizes

It was a British invasion at the 71st Emmy awards, with Game of Thrones taking home the prize for best drama and Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag sweeping most of the comedy awards in a night that saw numerous nods to stars from across the pond.

The biggest question heading into the night was whether Emmy voters would reward perennial juggernaut Game of Thrones for its divisive final season. The show was nominated for 32 awards the most for any single season of television ever and had already won 10 Creative Arts Emmys last week. Game of Thrones took home the nights final prize for outstanding drama series and a best supporting actor nod for American star Peter Dinklage bringing its total to 12 awards and breaking its own 2015 record for the most awards given to a series but was otherwise shut out of the telecast.

Instead, Fleabag emerged as the nights big winner, upstaging Veep, HBOs other Emmys mainstay in its final season, and last years darling The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Fleabag, which originated as Waller-Bridges one-woman show at the Edinburgh festival fringe, took home the awards for outstanding writing, best comedy series and best directing. Waller-Bridge also claimed lead actress in a comedy series a surprise win over Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who would have become the most decorated Emmys performer of all time had she won a ninth award for her role as Selina Meyer on Veep.

Jodie
Jodie Comer. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Waller-Bridge, who began her third acceptance speech by saying This is just getting ridiculous, was the crest of what amounted to a British wave at the Emmys, with wins for several stars: Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal) won for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series, while Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) apologized to her Liverpudlian parents for not inviting them because she didnt think it was my time in her speech for lead actress in a drama series. Chernobyl, HBO and Sky Televisions brutal, critically acclaimed limited series on the 1986 nuclear disaster, won for best outstanding writing, best directing and limited series. John Oliver won his fourth consecutive Emmy for best variety series for Last Week Tonight, and Jesse Armstrong took home best drama writing for HBOs upstart Succession. Black Mirrors choose-your-own-adventure flick Bandersnatch also won for best television movie.

Play Video
2:31

Emotional speeches take center stage at 2019 Emmys video highlights

In a hostless awards show packed with more awards than anything else, perhaps the most stirring moment of the night was Michelle Williams speech for outstanding lead actress in a limited series (Fosse/Verdon), in which she heralded gender pay equity. My bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon, said Williams, now an outspoken activist for gender pay equity following the revelation to herself and the public that she was paid significantly less than costar Mark Wahlberg in the movie All the Money in the World. The next time a woman, and especially a woman of color because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, Williams said to some tears from the audience.

Believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing [her] to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.

Jharrel
Jharrel Jerome wins lead actor in a drama series. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The nights other highlight was an inspiring win for Jharrel Jerome as lead actor in a limited series for When They See Us, Ava DuVernays Netflix series on the wrongly convicted Central Park Five that was otherwise shut out of awards by Chernobyl. This is for the men we know as the exonerated five, Jerome said as the real Central Park Five, now exonerated, raised their fists in solidarity.

Representation and tolerance were also the themes of speeches by Billy Porter (Pose), who took home the prize for lead actor in a drama series The category is love, yall, love! he shouted and Patricia Arquette (The Act), who won outstanding supporting actress in a limited series. Arquette dedicated the award to her sister Alexis, a trans woman who died in 2016, and urged an end to discrimination of trans people. Give them jobs. Lets get rid of this bias that we have everywhere, she said.

Play Video
0:31

Michelle Williams gives powerful Emmys acceptance speech on pay inequality video

Outside of the British winners, other highlights of the evening included two nods to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein for supporting actor and actress in a comedy series, respectively and an underdog win for Ozarks Julia Garner as outstanding supporting actress, besting Daenerys Targaryen herself, Emilia Clarke.

Game of Thrones still got its recognition, however, as a portion of its massive cast and crew took the stage for the nights biggest honor. Given all the fire and ice, dragons and long shoots, it is amazing that all of you are still alive, said co-showrunner DB Weiss. I cant believe we finished it.

Related posts