• Sister cries for help to treat him in hospital
By Bose Adelaja
Few days after an explosion occurred in Ladipo Spare Parts Market in Mushin, Lagos, which claimed five lives and injured many others, the only survivor, Opeyemi Shittu, popularly called Segun Upholstery, has said he was seated behind the gas vendor when the incident happened.
However, his elder sister, Oluwaseun Shittu, said his brother’s condition requires financial assistance to stay alive.
The 36 years old father of one, from Ijebu-Ife, Ogun State, said he earns a living as an artisan in Ladipo Spare Parts Market after completing his apprenticeship in 2006 and had practiced with some senior colleagues before he finally settled down in the market about four years ago.
He spoke with Sunday Vanguard at a private hospital in Ikorodu, Lagos where he is receiving medical attention.
Opeyemi, who lost both parents some years back, said he got married to 26 years old seamstress, Salawat, less than a year ago. The marriage is blessed with a girl.
However, the hope of survival for the young couple looks dicey as the health condition of the breadwinner is pathetic.
Opeyemi said the aftermath of the explosion has taken its toll on his health as he currently goes through pains at his ribs and knees though he is still under medical examination after series of tests have been conducted.
He described his survival as miraculous, saying he was grateful to God for saving him from death.
During a visit to the hospital on Thursday, the survivor was on drips. Also, there were stitches on his head and bandages on his right knee.
The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed that five people died while ten others survived the incident which occurred when a gas vendor was dispensing gas on that fateful Tuesday morning.
One Mama Funmi dealing in fries and a ten year old Farooq were said to be among the dead.
‘Segun Upholstery’ was rescued and rushed to hospital.
His elder sister, Oluwaseun, wife, daughter and a teenager were with him lending helping hands during Sunday Vanguard’s visit to the hospital.
Narrating what happened, Opeyemi said the day started like every other day and he was drinking pap behind q gas dispenser when the whole area went blank.
He said, “I had a lot of work to do and I did not want to disappoint my customers, so, I spent the night in the shop working after my colleagues had closed for the day.
“Thank God I was able to complete some of the jobs before day break and I quickly cleaned myself up in anticipation for the day’s job.
“I was taking pap at about 8am sitting behind the gas dispenser when I had a loud bang and the shop went blank.
“The next I saw was that people were shouting my name, ‘Segun Upholstery, Segun Upholstery…’ and that was all I could recall.
“On regaining consciousness, I found myself in hospital with severe pains all over my body.
“My sister informed me that medical examinations had been conducted on me but I don’t know the next line of action. “Above all, I need financial assistance to survive because, as I speak, this is sapping my energy and I wish to end the conversation here to avoid complications”.
Oluwaseun described his younger brother as a hardworking man.
The sister’s words: “My brother is hard working and we cannot afford to lose him at this point in time.
“We have lost both parents and all of us are struggling to survive before this calamity occurred”.
The petty trader said she was transacting the day’s business when her phone rang and the caller said her attention was needed at her brother’s workshop and she rushed there only to meet him nearly dead. ‘’He was bleeding profusely, his colleagues and some rescue officials surrounded him and a government official asked me if he should be taken to a government hospital but I declined due to my bitter experience at the General Hospital, Ikorodu where they neglected my baby who needed an emergency”, she narrated.
“So, I asked them to take him to a private hospital and he was admitted at Hosanna Grace Hospital at Papa Ajao where he was attended to, his bleeding stopped and head stitched.
“However, I noticed that fares from Ikorodu to Papa Ajao was gulping a lot of money; for instance, it costs over N3,000 per head and none of us could afford this as we (Opeoluwa, his wife, and I) have temporarily suspended our businesses to stay in the hospital for now. Apart from fares, the hospital bill was unaffordable for petty traders like us.
‘’The alternative was to request for his transfer to a hospital in Ikorodu in order to get another better service at a cheaper rate.
“A Good Samaritan from his workshop, his colleagues and few relatives have been supportive but my fear is that this type of treatment requires fund to enable us meet up.
“The owner of this hospital, after listening to our pleas, admitted him without requesting for upfront payment but whether we like it or not, we are expected to reciprocate the good gesture of the hospital by meeting up with the expenses.
‘’We have done some medical examinations and have been given the list of drugs but here we are, we have expended the little money on us.
“Help is coming from his colleagues but with the way things are going, his treatment may gulp a lot of money and none of us was prepared for this.
“I call on well meaning Nigerians to come to our aid. My brother has survived the explosion but requires funding to meet up with his medical expenses”.
Back to Ladipo Spare Parts Market on Thursday, Sunday Vanguard was informed that traders found some human bodies while cleaning their environment in the morning.
In a chat with Sunday Vanguard, Mr Showemimo Babatunde, Unit Chairman, Nigeria Automobile Technician Association, NATA, said there were two survivors on that day, Opeyemi and Farooq, but only Opeyemi survived the explosion.
“Many of our artisans sustained varying injuries at the scene but only Opeyemi was hospitalized”, he said.
“Some of our colleagues have visited him in hospital but I am yet to due to other engagements”.