The Funerals this Time

Today, Nigeria begins a three-day period of mourning for the victims, grieving and dead, of the DANA airliner that killed 163 people yesterday. It will not be enough. As relatives of decades-old crashes will testify, the wounds that have been opened yesterday will never, really, heal. The explosion over Lagos triggered a mourning that will last their lifetimes. Of course, death will ever come. It is the only certain end in all the uncertainties of life. But premature death, unnecessary death, and the fiery death that comes from our own callous negligence, our own rapacious connivance – that we can do something about.

Many weeks ago I wrote a blog with the sinister title A Formal Notice of Burials of Come in which I painted scenarios of careless lucre-inspired burials that we sign up to by living and breathing and moving in the great land of Nigeria. From examining the initial news reports of the accident, there is a sense that both the operators of DANA Airlines and the supervising authorities of the Aviation Industry may have had ample opportunity to avoid our 163 funerals by sending the deceased aircraft itself to an early graveyard.

Mr. President has acted with dispatch by announcing a 3-day period of mourning in memory of the dead, but it is only the living that actually hear the sermons at funerals. Will these three days of introspection inspire us to renew the simple standards of humanity that will make deaths like yesterday’s anathema in the Nigerian space? More innocent blood has now been sacrificed at the altar of our Corporate greed, of our institutional insouciance. Is it enough? The Vanguard Report referenced above reports that:

  • On May 3, an unnamed Lagos station manager of the airline was reported to have drawn the attention of management of the airlines that the aircraft in question needed to be grounded for general check-up but that alarm was ignored.
  • So on May 11, 2012, the same aircraft that was billed for Lagos/Abuja with more than half capacity passengers [made an] emergency landing at the Murtala Muhammed airport.  Reports said passengers on board  had to hurriedly disembark and sought alternative means of travelling.  No casualty.
  • On May 25, 2012, the same plane that was to do  Lagos/Calabar flight also made another air return to Lagos after the crew reported engine fault. There was also no casualty.
  • Then came the final straw.  On June 3, 2012, the same MD-83 with registration number 5N-RAM was performing a flight 9J-1993 from Lagos to Abuja with 153 passengers on board when the crew also discovered that the engine had developed fault.  The pilot made a quick air return to Lagos.

If this report is to be credited it would seem that the aircraft that killed 163 people yesterday had notched up significant safety issues within the last month, with the latest prompting an aborted flight on the same day of the fatal crash. At the very least, these facts should trigger an immediate public enquiry that goes beyond the traditional black box post-mortem, with a broad enough mandate to sanitize the operation of our aviation industry and restore public confidence in air travel. These facts should also provoke the authorities to open investigations with a view to bringing criminal charges – where the established facts justify them – against DANA airlines and its complicit management and board.

This crash is unfortunate, coming in the train of a busy aviation minister, our hectic airport infrastructure renewal and our newly minted pillar-to-post radar coverage… but it also comes 24 hours after another Nigerian plane chose to fall on a bus in Accra with a loss of 10 Ghanian lives. A certain fatalism holds sway over the land. When negligent death intervenes, the tried-and-tested machinery of peace-making intervenes and we grieve and move on. It is a far cry from litigious America where a damages-inspired system sniffs out malfeasance however tenuous the link. It is good to accept death as final, as the supreme court that closes the book of judgement on worldly affairs. But where we turn a blind eye to clear and apparent wrong, we become part of the story of the next fatality.

  • YES to a public inquiry on aviation safety in Nigeria.
  • YES to the public prosecution of indictable persons, corporate or otherwise.
Mr. President has also ordered ‘the fullest possible investigation.’ Will these investigations be fuller than the dozens before? Will their investigators and judges be forthright in their counsel and findings? Will their recommendations be enforced? Or will the business of selling Nigerians up shit-creek continue, even in the public houses that fly our flag at half-mast?
Perhaps the funerals this time will be the trigger for the change we have be waiting for.
The Dead
Onyeka Anyene; Hurria Lawal; Maimuna Anyene;  Bakisumiadi Yindadi; Ebuka Enuma; Oluchi Onyeyiri; Sunday Enuma; George Moses; Ogechi Njoku; Noah Anyene; Kamsiyona Anyene; Stanford Obrutse; Kaiyenotochi Anyene; Okeke Hope; Rev. Ayodeji Cole; Ngozi Cole; Noah Anyene; Ailende Ehi; Oluwasegun Funmi Abiodun; and  Shehu Sahad Usman.
Others were Alade Martins; Onita Jennifer (Mrs); Onita Josephine; Ike Ochonogo; Joy Alison; John Ahmadu; Akowe Fatokun Anjola;  Fatokun Olaoluwa; Fatokun Ibukun; Buhari Maikudi; Amina Idris Bugaje; Ajani  Adenle; IkeAbugu; Adijolola Abraham; Obot Emmanuel; Otegbeye Hadiza; Ehioghae Sunny; Onwuriri Celestine; Abikalio Otatoru; Noris Kim; Eyo Bassey; Njoku Charles; Anibaba Tosin; Okocha Christopher; Sobowale Femi; and Phillip Chukwu Ebuka.
Others were Sparagano Lawrence; Somolu Oluwakemi; Ariyibi Temitope; Meche Eke;  Ojugbana Amaka; Ojugbana Christopher; Buna Walter; Coker Olumide; Lilian Lass;  Mutittir Itsifanus; Yusuf Alli; Lt. Col. Jumbo Ochigbo; Eribake Wale; Zhai  Shuta; Wang Yu; P. Awani; O. Awani; N. Chidiac; Rijoel Dhose; Li Hizha; Apochi Godwin; Lang Yi; Yinusa Ahmed;  Faysal Inusa; Mojekwu Adaobi; Ibrahim D; Bamaiyi Adamu; Ifekowa Jones; Peter Nosike; Anthony Nwaokocha; Mahmud Aliyu;  Nnadi John; Akweze Elizabeth; Dorothy Adedunni; Echeidu Ibe; Maria Okulehi; Jennifer Ibe;   Okoko junjip; Sarah Mshelia; Ahmed Mbana; Okonji Patrick; Oyosoro Rajuli; Oyosoro Ugbabio; Kaikai Farida; David Kolawole Fortune; Eyinoluwa David Kolawole; Kaltum Abubakar; and Dakawa Mahmud. Patience Sunday Udoh; Asuquo Iniebong; Onemonelese Aimeihi;  Onyeagocha Chidinma; Onyeagocha Ogechi; Ike Okoye; Amaka Raphael; Ijeoma Onyinjuke; Garba Abdul; Aisha  Abdul; Benson Oluwayomi; Anthony7 Opara; Taiwo Lamidi; Awodogan Olusanmi; Obi Chinwe; Shaibu Memuna; Major I.G Mohammed;  Nagidi Ibrahim; Attah Anthonia; Shaibu Sam; Ifeanyi Orakwe; Obinna Akubueze; Li Rui; Xie Zhenfeng; Oko Eseoghene; Chukwuemeka Okere; Adetunbi Adebiyi; Ibrahim Mantakari; Was Ruth; Wasa  Awiyetu; Ojukwu Alvana; Lawal Anakobe; Nabil Garba; Mohammed Falmata; Ibrahim Jangana; Okikiolu Olukayode; Komolafe Olugbenga; Dike Chinwe; Dike Chike Ezugo; Olusola Arokoyo; Adetola Ayoola; Akinola Olumodeji; Olukoya Banji Saka Otaru; Adeleke Oluwadamilare; Yusuf Ibrahim; Ikpohi Obiola; Aikhomu Ehimen;  Levi Ajuonuma; Mbong Eventus.
The Grieving