By John Ikani
President Muhamadu Buhari has bestowed a posthumous award on a hero, Joe Blankson who passed away in a messianic fashion.
Blackson was a 39-year-old Rivers State indigene and father of two, who drowned in a boat accident at the Port Harcourt-Bakana waterways on July 28, 2018, after saving 13 co-passengers and attempting to save more.
Three years after Blackson’s messianic death, Buhari presented a posthumous award to his wife and two children on on September 30th.
Sharing pictures of the event on his verified Facebook page, the President described Blankson as a true Nigerian hero.
Buhari said, “On Thursday night at the State House, we honoured the memory of Joseph Blankson, a true Nigerian hero, who lost his life while saving others following a boat accident on the Abonnema-Bakana waterway in Rivers State, on July 28, 2018.
“Blankson successfully rescued 13 persons and tragically drowned while attempting the 14th rescue. He was the sole casualty of the boat accident.”
The President noted that he presented a Presidential Special Award for Bravery and Patriotism to the late hero.
“I presented a posthumous Presidential Special Award for Bravery and Patriotism to his wife, Mercy, and his two children, in recognition of the greatness and heroism of their husband and father.
“We will continue to celebrate the best of Nigeria and Nigerians, as we work for and look forward to a better, brighter and greater Nigeria,” the President said.
What you should know
The posthumous award presentation comes 2 months after a former lawmaker representing Akuku-Toru/Asari-Toru Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Dr. Dawari George called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently confer a posthumous national honour on the deceased.
George made the call at a swimming competition organised by Joe Blackson Foundation in commemoration of the deceased third death anniversary held at the National Stadium swimming pool arena in Abuja.
The former lawmaker and Chairman of the occasion ably represented by the Chairman of Nigerian Young Professional Forum (NYPF), Moses Siloko Siasia, described the late Blackson as “a young man that truly understood the essence of life which is service to humanity.”
According to him: “We live in a world where selfishness and wickedness reigns. It is a world where people exhibit ‘I don’t care attitude’.
“The reason why we are all gathered to commemorate Blackson’s third death anniversary is because of the value that he left behind. Many have lost their lives and are not being remembered but Blackson lost his life and he is being remembered for his sacrificial exit”.
He also called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, name one of the national swimming pools in the country after Joe Blackson to improve the culture of swimming, as well as remind posterity of the deceased rare service to humanity.
On his part, Siasia awarded scholarships to the children of late Joe Blackson and called on government and well-meaning Nigerians, including survivors saved by Blackson from drowning to support the Joe Blackson Foundation and children of the deceased.
According to him: “Blackson exhibited extraordinary courage and gallantry in the face of great danger to his own safety and well-being.
“His selflessness and kindness are hard to find in present-day society where people are uncaring, callous and selfish.
“This is why the family of Moses Siloko Siasia is committing to support and add value to the education of Blackson’s kids up to university level with the sum of #500,000 per annum.”
The Joe Blackson Foundation was established in 2019 in commemoration of the deceased’s first death anniversary.
Now in its third year, the foundation is dedicated to teaching children and adults swimming techniques to prevent drowning from boat and water accidents.