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DAWN FIRE: IBB, OTHERS COMMISERATE WITH THE SUN

By NBF News

More sympathy messages have continued to pour in, two weeks after a dawn fire wreaked havoc at the Corporate Headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited, Kirikiri Industrial Layout, Apapa, Lagos. In a letter signed by Nigeria's former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the Minna-born General prayed for continued growth of The Sun and the ability to sustain its mission statement of 'practicing journalism in the classical tabloid newspaper tradition,' in spite of the havoc wreaked by the fire.

Babangida who described The Sun Publishing Limited as second home to him, said the sympathy message became imperative, 'first because I share in your mission statement and secondly because you parade some of the best hands in the industry most of whom are my best friends.

'In my journey through life, I have had the privilege of interacting with some of you whose opinions and ideas have helped in shaping the destiny of the country in the right direction. He spoke further, 'we can do more if we remain good patriots and citizens of this great country without playing out tribal sentiments and clannish inclinations in the way and manner that we conduct our daily activities. There is no other country we can truly call our own.'

The former leader also used the opportunity to bemoan the state of insecurity in the country, more particularly, following last weekend's kidnap of some journalists in Abia State. His words: ' I wonder aloud what the country would look like if those who are vested with the responsibility of informing and reforming the society are being hounded by kidnappers.

'It is the most barbaric and uncivilized conduct, one can think of in the life of a nation that is grappling with developmental challenges.

While expressing concern over the pains and operational difficulties the fire incident would have caused The Sun, Babangida urged more vigilance and preventive measures to avert possible future occurrence.

On his part, the presiding Bishop, The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) Dr. Mike Okonkwo said he received the news of the fire with shock shortly after he returned from overseas. 'While we cannot underestimate the pains associated with the occurrences, it is my prayer that the Lord will comfort, console and encourage you,' Okonkwo said in a letter.

Also, Rotary International, District 9110, the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), New Horizon Systems Solutions Ltd, and an industrialist, Chief E.C. Okonkwo were also not left out in commiserating with the newspaper over the fire outbreak.

In a letter signed by PRCAN President, Phil Osagie, the body described The Sun as a strong partner, urging the management and members of staff to regard the incident as darkness before a brilliant dawn. 'The conflagration that torches the King's palace is an invitation to a bigger and better edifice,' the body wished in its letter.

On its part, Rotary International District 9110, expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost in the fire incident. While praying that God replenishes the material losses to the inferno, the group noted with pleasure that the incident had not deprived millions of readers of The Sun titles, their daily menu.

An industrialist and CEO, Ekulo International Limited, Chief E.C. Okonkwo, in his message expressed sadness over the incident in which property worth millions of naira were lost. He was also thankful to God that no lives were lost.

'It is regrettable that the incident happened at a time the publication has virtually occupied the front seat in the media.

'However, we thank God that no life was lost and due to the dexterity of your management, not even a day's publication of The Sun Newspapers was skipped,' the letter stated.

Okonkwo, in the letter also urged the newspaper to remain undaunted but continue to perform its duties even better than before.

'We, therefore, urge the management and workers to see the incident as a challenge that will energize the firm to emerge stronger and better for its enviable role in the country.'