Monday, December 15, 2008

Controlling Fireworks

IT is December, and the onset of the season of goodwill generally known as Yuletide and the end of year activities. At Christmas fireworks are used. Many cities in Europe and America are officially wired for fireworks displays on Christmas and New Year Eve. In some cities, the mayor sets off the fireworks through a switch to commence the merriments at the festive season.

Nigeria is no less. The celebration of Christmas has become an industry in States like Cross River (Calabar Carnival) which runs throughout December . As early as the end of October, children and youths sporadically start using fireworks as if to remind their parents that it would soon be Yuletide.

Each year the authorities made a routine of issuing warnings about the use of these fireworks that have been known to set houses ablaze and serious injuries sustained youths who excitedly fireworks at each other in streets funs that sometimes turn tragic – it does not stop them from continuing.

The Rivers State Police Command has announced the prohibition of the use of fireworks “throughout this Christmas till January next year.” Mr. Bala Hassan, the State Commissioner of Police in issuing the order gave as reason that fireworks confuse policemen about the activities of criminals. Mr. Hassan may well be correct, as stories have been told of how petty thieves use fireworks to instil fear in their victims, by exploiting the confusion they generate as cover to rob.

Why does Nigeria expend its scarce resources in importing these deadly fireworks which serve no useful purpose? There is no Nigerian firm manufacturing fireworks.

If fireworks can be used by criminals in pursuit of their nefarious activities, why not place their sale and purchase under sanction? Why do we allow our youths to use them with all their known dangerous consequences?

The argument that fireworks are mostly smuggled into the country is a mere excuse to allow banned illegality to thrive. It is the duty of the customs to stop their entry into the country. The police and other security agencies should work together on this matter, to save the country from the dire consequences of these fireworks.

Community leaders should be pressed into service of getting their residents to comply with the bans on fireworks. Everyone tends to treat this matter with levity until the damage has been done.
Fireworks are dangerous enough that if ever they have to be used, it should be with permission of the police and clearance with the Fire Service because of the possibilities with fireworks.

Arbitrary use of fireworks on the streets cannot meet these conditions and the authorities should deal with violators decisively