Returning from a seemingly wasted journey was not what irked me that day, No. I had accepted it as something which I could not change, therefore which needed no more probe, lest I finger its rancid entrails and exhume self pity. My anger that morning stemmed from the fact that as I sat in the Lagos bound bus, backpack on my legs, contemplating sleep- yet knowing I did not want to journey that road again, having just awoken barely six hours earlier- information reached me that another church had been bombed in Northern Nigeria. Again another church, another suicide mission executed on the engine of another Honda driven by yet another Islamist militant, yet more Christians dead!
Noon gradually came upon us as we drove past Shagamu, and memories of the day before overwhelmed me. Again I was reminded of death and ruin, by the sweltering heat that rose as the bus drove past the residue of burnt tankers and cars, I thanked the Lord for His endless Mercy; my first deep- seated gratitude that day.
In truth, my day really started when, at 2.45 pm I dared open facebook as I sat at my computer to write. To think tat I had rained invectives on the President to resign after the morning church blast! The picture of the Abuja-Lagos bound, Dana Plane, not quite whole, smoke emitting from one corner was a tell tale sign of what doom lay ahead. I hoped however that there would be survivors; if wishes were horses…
Within minutes of navigating between fb and twitter, more updates and pictures emerged. A body burning on the ground next to the wreckage, smoke billowing from buildings, gore after gore. No one had survived! More specific details of the wreckage site emerged; the crash happened in Balogun area of Iju, Ishaga. I experienced another fear; Jazz lived in that neighbourhood!
As I dialed her number unsuccessfully for the ninth time, I remembered how a few days ago she had told me on the phone that she was really tired and was in need of a domestic help, especially with the boys and Ella to contend with.
Sympathizing with her Ioffered to help her find one, and I said ‘And you go soon born, na now wey you need maid pass’
In her usual manner she had retorted ‘Wetin you mean, na you give me di belle? How you take sabi say I go soon born?’
Surely that was not going to be our last banter?
153 dead flashed before my eyes that afternoon and I could not help wondering what we did to deserve this kind of lack-luster governance in Nigeria. This country’s leaders seem hell-bent on steering Nigeria to extinction. If all our manpower perish steadily in bomb blasts, avoidable road accidents and plane crashes over a time, who will remain to build this nation from the ruins that will obviously be what is left of Nigeria?
They sit there in their plush offices, siphoning our monies into foreign accounts, ordering the newest, classiest vehicles for their official use, while lives waste on the thread mill of bureaucracy in a comatose civil service and our collective futures burn away in the cauldron of corruption. This uncaring government that dares open its mouth in myriad condolences more often than it implements useful well thought out policies.
Why else would a faulty aircraft find its way to our airspace? I can’t help wondering if the Indian executives of Dana Air would try that in their homeland. When will we ever have an emergency management plan that actually works; is well equipped and timely beyond the emptiness of the name NEMA? How many times do we hear of planes crashing in the West? If they ever crash due to malfunction and not bombs, do they never have ANY survivors? Only in Nigeria. If our people had better education in these things, will rescue operations not be more effective? Why would a plane crash land in a crowded residential area like Iju Ishaga and the residents stand aside and video record the screaming victims, banging on the plane’s windows for help? Scary! This is all I will think of, next time I take a local flight in Nigeria.
If like my daughter’s dorm mates, Munachi Ojugbana and Ruth Kennedy, you lost family, friend or acquaintance in that crash, do take heart. Only The Almighty’s Grace and time ultimately heals that sort of grief.
Jazz and her family may have escaped the ill fated plane by a hair’s breath; it finally crashed a stone throw from her house. But what will be said to the remainder of the Anyene family who stood by, impotent, as Nigeria and her many incompetences denied a mother, three children, a grandmother and father another day on earth? What will be said of Oluwakemi Somolu, whose wedding dress remains hanging in a wardrobe, never to be worn; September wedding plans gone up in fumes. Thanks to a plane that we now hear has had several technical faults in the past three weeks!
We must raise our voices and take action where we can to stop this menace from consuming us. Our government must realise that they owe us service; that is what true leadership really is! Making Nigeria work again is not nuclear physics, if other African countries can do it, so can we.
First of all, every one with a duty- any duty at all- must be held accountable for that duty with which he is entrusted. Our people must not die in vain anymore! For this to happen we should demand more than just a revoking of the airline’s license and a shallow probe. Yes. We should demand justice and a change in the uncaring attitude of the Nigerian Government! That is the only way.