There are many lessons to learn from the fire tragedy which struck in Abuja on Sunday morning when Next Cash & Carry, a sprawling supermaket, went up in flames, the cause of which is yet to be ascertained.
This came five months after Ebeano Supermarket was burnt down in a suspected arson.
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Ebeano Supermarket was razed down by fire in July when a young girl allegedly set fire on a section which later engulfed the whole place and burnt everything.
However, while nothing was salvaged from Ebeano, the Next Cash & Carry owner was lucky to have people around who helped to salvage some of the goods.
This revealed the spirit with which poor Nigerians have been sacrificing their lives to save Nigeria, for themselves and for the rich to live their lives.
The bravery displayed by the “good, poor Samaritans” who defied the smoke and the raging flames to salvage goods from the burning supermarket is something which in the same circumstances can hardly be reciprocated by the rich.
These poor folks whose videos and pictures went viral as they push trolleys full of goods or carrying on their heads were first portrayed in the social media as villains and thieves pillaging items from the burning building.
However, when things became clear, Nigerians later came to know that they are poor Nigerians who, despite their conditions, helped a rich Nigerian to save what remains of his properties.
They took anything that could be salvaged from the burning supermarket away from the fire.
This was attested to in a statement by the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Josephine Adeh.
She stated, “Well-meaning members of the surrounding communities came out en masse and helped in evacuating goods and other valuables from the supermarket to a safe location within the area with the supervision of police officers of the command that were on the ground.
“This is contrary to the news getting the rounds as there is no successful case of looting or carting away of goods from the store”.
Most of these poor people who helped the billionaire owner of the supermarket might not even be allowed near the edifice or have business buying from the supermarket because it was not built for their types.
While they scampered to salvage as much as they could for the owner at no cost, what they had in their minds was probably that they had at least helped a human being to rebuild his life from the ashes of the tragedy that befell him.
They didn’t care who owned the supermarket; they only wanted to discharge a responsibility imposed on them by the circumstances, to save what belongs to a Nigerian.
However, as the supermarket burnt, the billionaire owner and his rich associates, friends and family might not be anywhere near the burning building.
They might probably not even be in the city, because the incident occurred on Boxing Day; a day after Christmas which was a public holiday.
This kept most people at home, but the poor were very much around to offer help out of their helplessness.
The rich may be comfortable with their wealth, but the poor drive everything around their life and they know it.
This is one of the many sacrifices by poor Nigerians to sustain the lives of both their types and the rich.
Although a handful of them, three people to be precise, have been nabbed by the police for allegedly trying to steal some of the salvaged foods as the FCT police revealed, that won’t diminish the sacrifices of the many heroes of that day.
Lesson: Your life depends on the poor
What transpired on that day as seen by many is a lesson for the rich to know that while they forget the sufferings of the poor, they in turn have always been there in their times of need.
A cursory look at the life of the rich will show all discerning minds that their lives depend on the poor which many treat with disdain and keep at arm’s length.
The rich rely on the poor to be driven around, take their children to school, do their laundry and tend their garden or the flowers beautifying their house.
The security guard, whose room is by the gate, keeps his eyes wide open to keep watch while the rich occupants of the house sleep in their air-conditioned rooms. That is enough of a sacrifice to make, because the pay isn’t worth the risk.
Even in death, the poor are always the final undertaker. A billionaire who died in an expensive hospital overseas or in the country ended up in the hands of the poor who put him in his final resting place.
Graves for the rich are always built by the poor, and the bodies are also lowered into the ground by the poor.
During funerals, whether for a rich Muslim or Christian, the poor remain their friend; they see it as a duty to, even in death, help the rich to the great beyond, a gesture which is hardly returned when they die.
The poor are on their own
Despite their sacrifice, the poor remain like tools which are only remembered when their services are needed and abandoned when they are done.
In the political cycle, the poor vote, it doesn’t matter how they vote; whether it was paid for or not, they take the risk and bear the brunt of all the failures in the system.
The poor are still the prey to bandits, insurgents and other bad elements. In the present circumstances, the poor have paid more than their due with everything they have including their lives.
What remains is for the rich to learn a lesson from the poor and show a little appreciation for the sacrifice of the poor.
This will make them proud and feel a little human and do more, not for themselves, but for everybody.
The poor may have their shortcomings but, certainly, they are always the heroes available to lend a helping hand.
If the rich and leaders in Nigeria had the same empathy as most of the poor, our problems would have been over long ago.