Denrele  Animasaun from  London

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.-VACLAV HAVEL

The crash of Dana Air flight 0992, which killed over 160 people on  Sunday in Lagos, came  right  of the  blue( I  mean  it  is  not   like   we   expecting  to  hear   of   air  crash  though   one  has  occurred  flying   from  Nigeria  to Ghana).

It   was  actually  more closer  to   home  because  it  was  closer  to  home, the  family  home   was  not  far   from  the  Dana  crash site. You  do  the  usual;  call  everyone you know at  Lagos  and   in Abuja,  then your  thoughts   turn to  those   who  were  on  the  flight.

I   looked on line to get an update. It was   carnage. The   lives lost on board and those   on the ground ran into over 150 and still counting. Although Nigeria’s air safety record has improved in recent years, the country has a history of major passenger plane crashes – this is the fourth crash in the last decade in which more than 100 people each were killed.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says although some could still be buried under the rubble, so far the emergency teams have found six additional bodies – a remarkably low number given that it is a densely populated city.

An NCAA investigation into the cause of the crash is under way, and both the flight data and the voice recorder have been recovered. Then  as the  story  unfolds, you  read  that the  fire brigade’s hose had  inadequate  water  to  doze  the   fire  so  resident  were  using buckets.

I checked   my Face book  page   to  find there   were   people  close to the  crash  site   who  were  updating  us.  Then of course, there were conspiracy  theories  and recriminations.  That  the   airline  put  profit   before  people, that the plane  was   not  up   to  standard; that aviation ministry  has  incompetent and  under qualified  personnel; that  money  to  improve fleet  was  diverted.

“(The aircraft) was not supposed to leave Lagos at all, but it left and then got to Calabar, had fault and it was fixed. And then they took it to Abuja, when they should have returned to Lagos but because they didn’t want to part with the little money they will make; they took it to Abuja, loaded full passengers, and then it couldn’t get to Lagos.” And  of  course, it   dredged up  so  many  failings  in  the  public  and  private  structures, many  of  it  justified.

One  of  the  recurring  reactions  from   some  the FB pages, blogs  was   the  flurry of condolences,  they   identified   friends  and  family.  They  also made  it more   close  to   home as  they  were   people with  families, friends  who then   put  pictures  to   faces.  Then this   rammed it   home even more   so.

Something alarming emerged amongst the outpouring of emotions.  Those   who  repeatedly  call  for   readers to pray  for   Nigeria, that  Nigerians  aren’t   praying   enough.  They  need to   fast  and  so  on. Then the   ones  laying  the  blame  on  the  corrupt  government, politicians  the  incompetent officials. Then there  was  the  blame  the  Diasporas  for bad  mouthing  Nigeria  rather than  offering  solution.  There were lots of opinions in diverging  camps. In the  midst  of  this we  lost   focus  about  the  crash  and  loss  of  lives.

I am afraid, I lost it! I   was  not  alone  but  I had  to  respond,   so  respond  I   did . I  explained   to  these  readers  that  about time  we   got up   from  our  knees  and  pray  with  our feet; that  we  cannot   expect  to  be  docile and   helpless   in  a  matter  such  as  this. We need collective intervention. About time people took their hands off their mouths, ears, and eyes!

Apathy, helplessness, hopelessness and general fear has crippled our nation while some frozen at the spot where they pray. Others work towards progress while they pray, you see God is everywhere and he listens. I  felt  that   we   have  been   so apathetic   for  so  long in  the  way   that we  deal   with  anything,   everything.

We  are aware that  we  have  been  receiving   substandard  service  and  treatment  and yet  we  wait    for  divine   intervention. If Rosa Parks was Nigerian, am sure she would not have got up for a white person to sit, because she feels that she should pray and before she then act.

Her  decision inspired a  young man ,Martin Luther  King jr, to  mobilise  like  minded  people  of  different   shades  and persuasion to  make   change. And  they   said  then it  could not  happen  but it did! This  small  but  brave changed  a  whole  generation and   we  feel  the  gift   even  now. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted: We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

And he also said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbour will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others”

Well, I  for  one,   put  in   my   six penny’s  worth.  I  did  explain  that the  ills  of  Nigeria  needs  collective  intervention  not  divine  intervention, after all,  God  helps  those who help  themselves.  I was   perceived   by the “pray   for   Nigeria brigade “as   someone   who had no   faith. I   believe   in God  and  I   know  that  God  has  nothing  to   do  with  what  happen on the   fateful  Sunday. The  weather   was  good, the   plane  was   close   to  the  airport when  it  radioed  in  that  there   was   engine   problem.

As far as it   has been established, the plane had some   repair   issues. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning and promised improvements to air safety after he visited the plane crash, with the Governor of Lagos.

In the  space  of      four  days   I  have observed  that some  people  have   gone through  David Kessler & Elisabeth Kübler- Ross’s the  five stages of  Grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance .   It  seems  that   people  have  undergone  some  mass  hysteria,  some   of  warranted   and  some misplaced.  Let  me  explain  for  the  shock, there  was   recriminations,  anger  and  fear , hopelessness.

We have become  so   weather  worn, emotionally battled  scarred ,so  traumatised  that   we   have  lost   the  means  to  cope with life and loss. What   happened last  weekend has been  tragic but  also   there  have  been a  series  of   incidents in  Lagos  within  a  short space  of  time , the  Dana Crash   was  the  straw that  broke the  camel’s back.

In the meantime, on the Dana site   they had this; “The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of Flight 9J-922 of Sunday, June 3, 2012. The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers on board.

“One Dana Air Flight Engineer, two Pilots and four Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight.We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased and we are doing everything we can to assist them in this extremely difficult time. A 24hr Call Centre service has been initiated and we have also set up an information centre at MMA2 to look after their needs and keep them as quickly informed as possible”.

An investigation into the cause of the accident got under way immediately, under the guidance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who are being assisted by investigators from the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Dana Air is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.

May  I   suggest the  best  thing  we  say   to  someone  in grief; I am so sorry for your loss, I wish I had the right words, just know I care. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers. My favourite memory of your loved one is…I am always just a phone call away.


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