Sunday June 3, 2012 stated just like any other day for millions of Nigerians. Each region was expected to witness the usual – bomb blasts in the North, kidnappings in the East, and less horrendous hazards in the South; robbery, hooliganism, the usual political bickering, among others. Of the litany of woes that have been the lot of Nigeria in the recent past, the South seems to be better off.
Common to all regions of the country is institutionalized looting and we are use to it. Everybody knows this. We live with it and nothing seems to be strange about it.
But, that day was to be different. President Jonathan was to add more his basketful of maladministration. And the country was to be once again subjected to agonies necessitated by assemblage of insatiably corrupt, kleptoparasitic and inefficient officials.
When the news of a cargo plane owned by Allied Air, a Nigeria-based firm, crash-landed in Accra Ghana with JUST 10 deaths, Nigerians were not that concerned. That number was far below what the dreaded Boko Haram, accidents occasioned by bad roads and armed robbery kills daily. And when the news of the suicide bomber that targeted Living Faith Church in Tundun Yelwa Bauchi filtered in with JUST 12 deaths, nobody bothered. It was a usual thing.
But, a more colossal tragedy was to come. A combination of systemic and official corruption, incompetence, bad leadership and a total disregard for human lives were to unite Nigerians in sorrow. It was a BLACK SUNDAY!
It was no longer news that a Lagos bound Dana Airline crashed into a residential area of Iju-Ishaga in Lagos, that the ill-fated Abuja-Lagos aircraft was just a stone throw to the airport, that the 153 people on board did not have a chance and that deaths were also recorded on ground. Incidents before and after precipitated this treatise.
Screaming news headlines reported that the pilot of the plane relayed a ‘MAY-DAY’ message to the airport when it was in some 11 nautical miles to the Lagos airport. May-Day is the aviation language that signifies danger, emergency, request for assistance, etc. That plane crashed at 4 nautical to the airport.
In saner climes where human lives are sacred, where corruption doesn’t dictate, where competency determines employment, where mediocrity is not celebrated and where accountability is the norm the airport emergency services would have been activated with rescue helicopters tailing that plane with fire trucks deployed to the route of the plane. But no, the authority yet again exhibited its registered incompetence.
It was equally baffling that emergency services failed to show up immediately the plane crashed. They were to come when the plane had exploded. There were sure to be survivors on that plane. But they were left to be burnt beyond recognition.
Expectedly, Mr. President visited the scene of the carnage on Monday and shed some crocodile tears. What we need is not your tears, sir. The death of these Nigerians will be in vain if those responsible – directly or indirectly – for these preventable deaths are not apprehended and prosecuted.
We are familiar with committees and panels of investigations and their usual white papers. They have never been of good to us. Your tears will only be meaningful if decisive actions are taken and those responsible brought to book.
What we need now is the sack of corrupt officials that allowed a defective plane to fly; that failed to deploy emergency rescue teams when the pilot made MAY DAY call; that exercised unprofessional conduct by not getting to the scene of the crash until about thirty minutes when the plane had exploded. Whereas the crash site is just a stone throw to the airport.
Sir, we also noted that no Nigerian TV station provided live feed of the crash site and rescue done by Nigerians who thronged the scene. The national TV, NTA, was busy as if nothing happened. We felt bad that it was foreign media that informed us of such an incident in our country. It is a shame. We believe this must be because of uncivilized ‘DO-NOT-BROADCAST’ directive from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Such a retrogressive law must be expunged. It is anti-people and a gag on freedom of information.
Sir, may be you don’t know that nothing works in this country; that we are referred to as ‘’generator generation’’ because electricity is non-existent, that our roads are death traps, that potable water is only for those with the means to have private water bore-holes, that libraries in our schools are stocked with antiquated books, that we are all afraid because of lack of security, that….
Our litany of woes is endless because we are in a quagmire occasioned by leadership tragedy. It is time to show us action; to redeem this nation from the precipice of imbalance.
Your tears cannot atone for the sins of the Aviation Minister Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi and the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Dr. Harold Demuren who preside over a decay industry that caused the deaths of these hapless souls. Revocation of operational license of Dana Airline is also not the solution; you have just sent more Nigerians into the labour market.
We are not fooled by your tears, Mr. President. It is time to act.
Twitter: @ Femiolas