Mother of the 21-year-old student of the University of Ibadan (UI), Richard Gbadebo, has appealed to Nigerians not to allow her son die in vain.
Richard, a 300-level student of the Department of European Studies (German), had died after falling into a soap-making machine at a factory owned by Henkel Nigeria Limited, Ibadan, makers of WAW detergent and bar soap, where he did holiday job.
During a condolence visit to the family by members of the university management, Students’ Union and some students, the deceased’s mother wailed: “Do not allow WAW Company make me suffer in vain. He (Richard) went to struggle to assist us due to the COVID-19 break. He has worked for three months and has been buying things he will need when school resumes. My son was inside the machine since yesterday morning till the evening.
“I appeal to all Nigerians to fight for me. I also worked at the company when there was no one to assist me refund my debt where I sell. And that was why my son also said he wanted to work there to assist us with his school fees.”
Gbadebo was interred on Wednesday after his father retrieved the body from the company’s premises.
Enraged by the incident, some persons who claim to be former workers of the company accused the firm on social media of poor safety measures.
The firm, however, said on Twitter that it was grieved by the incident and had contacted the bereaved family.
“The tragic incident shakes us and we assure you that we will do everything we can to clarify its cause. Our deepest sympathy goes to Richard’s family. We are in contact with them and will provide the necessary support in this difficult time.
“Out of respect, we will not make any further statement at this time. It was important for us to personally console his family before we comment on the incident on public channels,” the tweets read.
An aggrieved family member said that none of the staffers of the factory followed them to their house after the unfortunate incident. She appealed to the state government to lock up the factory.
The university’s Students’ Union president, Olusegun Akeju, expressed his displeasure that the company had not visited the family.
As reported by Guardian newspaper, when the students visited the company at Oluyole, they were at first denied access into the premises, a development that almost triggered a commotion but for the intervention of the police.
Afterwards, the Special Adviser on Youths and Sports to Oyo State governor, Kazeem Bolarinwa, Special Assistant to the Governor on Student Affairs, Oloyede Victor, and three student representatives were granted entrance into the factory to speak with the management.
After the meeting, Oloyede said: “We have met with the management and they sincerely apologize for not immediately responding to what has happened because they thought if they had gone to visit the family of the deceased, there could have been more crisis.
“While we all are angry with what has happened and the way the company has reacted, we have instructed them and they have promised us that they will move immediately with the Students Union to support the family of the deceased.”
In a condolence message to the deceased family, the university’s Director of Public Communication, Olatunji Oladejo, expressed deep regrets over the unfortunate incident.
“On behalf of the council senate congregation, management and students of the University of Ibadan, we want to commiserate with the family of the deceased on the sad loss of Gbadebo Richard. We pray to Almighty God to give the family the fortitude to the great loss and may the soul of the deceased rest in peace,” the institution prayed.