A real Nigerian hero was found in 36-year-old father of two, Joseph Blankson, who died after saving 13 people from a boat accident last week in Bakana, Rivers State.
According to local reports, the accident claimed the lives of six people including Mr Blankson who died of exhaustion in the process of rescuing the 14th person.
Joseph Blankson, who was a passenger aboard the boat, is described as being a good swimmer from the community and was a contractor working with an oil and gas company in Port Harcourt.
The state government has denied the reports claiming that only one person (Joe Blankson) out of the 24 passengers in the boat who died and the 23 others were rescued.
“The report we got from the police in that area was that only one person died. And he might have died of exhaustion after helping in the rescue efforts,” the state’s police spokesperson, Nnamdi Omoni, was quoted by local media.
Nigerians, however, were not pleased with the silence of the federal government on the heroic acts of Joseph Blankson. The state authorities only issued a message of condolence to the family.
The story of the young man has gone viral on social media with people comparing the Nigerian government’s reaction to that of the French who honoured 22-year-old Malian illegal immigrant, Mamoudou Gassama, for saving a 4-year-old child from falling off from the 4th floor of a building in Paris.
A man rescued a child in France & was honoured by the French Govt. Joe Blankson rescued 13 people in a boat mishap at Bakana in Rivers state before losing his life trying to save more people. He deserves to be honoured.
He's a Hero. @TouchPH @segalink @DrJoeAbah @riversstategov pic.twitter.com/5UXtSklVp3
— Kingsley Ogar (@IamKingsleyOgar) August 4, 2018
A petition has also been launched online demanding state honour for Joseph Blankson.
“I hereby call on the Government of Rivers State of Nigeria to immortalise Joe Blankson and also provide for the family he left behind. Such heroic effort deserved [sic] even both State and National Honours. It is not only politicians who loots [sic] our public treasury that should be given awards or immortlaised [sic]. Joseph (Joe) Blankson in every sense of it should be honoured and immortalised,” writes Maclean Eneotu who started the online petition on Friday.
Already, 219 people have signed the petition.
Below are some more comments on social media on the heroic acts of Joseph Blankson.
Our dear Senators and esteemed government officials should be planing on how to help the family and provide scholarship for his children and dependants. They are busy plotting who impeach, dethrone and persecute. I pray receive Sense.
— Ibrahim Giwa-Osagie (@colkefas) August 5, 2018
You do what you do for good conscience and get a greater reward from God. If in the event of doing good, you thought about national honors or human rewards, nobody on Earth will be saved. Keep doing good and encourage others too. We celebrate the wrong ideals in Nija
— gbenga_christlove (@christlove4us) August 5, 2018
If this guy was my brother, I'll be giving him swear and curse everyday cos him know say naija na crap but he still did that shit 😖😏
— Cynthia_knowles🇳🇬 (@freakyhookup1) August 5, 2018
He deserve a rewards he is a #hero
— Ben moses (@benmoses77) August 5, 2018
I cann't fathom the reason why we don't believe in ourselves until the foreign media or their government speak about it before we take action on it……………………..it's very disheartened
— Mr Common Sense (@Akmonabiodun) August 6, 2018
Not all heroes wear capes… Rest in peace superman
— O.G. (@Oga_ba) August 5, 2018
May God forgive his shortcomings ,YES he truelly deserves recognition. 🖒
— aisha abdullahi (@AbdullahiAzumi) August 5, 2018
I support this cause but will our leaders?
— ekanem edet (@edmktman2) August 5, 2018
— #BringBackOurLEAH (@Joecuji) August 6, 2018
@DrCOmole our heroes v to b recognised & rewarded accordingly both at d LGA, State & Fed. Let d LGA & State lead d way.
— kaccey (@kacceyk) August 5, 2018
If only he was from a serious minded country that value selfless acts of heroism.
— Mazi Kelechi (@kelisofgod) August 5, 2018
Why is this not trending? This man was one of the true heroes of Nigeria, not politicians who jump from one party to the other. Celebrate him Wike!!!
— Olasumbo Apanpa (@ApanpaOlasumbo) August 5, 2018