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Culpability in the Dana air crash (2)

THE Nigerian aviation law prohibits the registration and operation of aircrafts more than 22 years old for ferrying air passengers. That airline companies in Nigeria continue to register and operate planes older than 22 years is an indictment of the Ministry of Aviation and NCAA.

Airline passengers routinely lament the dangerous conditions of some of these old and decrepit aircrafts permitted to shuttle air passengers between the country’s airports. If passengers can notice the terrible conditions of these airplanes, including some owned by Dana Air, then their hazardous conditions must have been conspicuously evident to the aviation experts that suffuse the Aviation Ministry and NCAA,

It was one of these ramshackle aircrafts that air travelers previously complained about that crashed at Uju/Ishaga in Lagos State on June 3rd, 2012; killing all the 153 passengers on board. The crash of the Dana Flight 0992 would have been avoided if the officials of the Ministry of Aviation and NCAA have been committed to their responsibilities, and as such, conscientious in their duties.

These two government agencies, that control the aviation industry, are culpable, more so than the profit maximizing management of the Dana Air, for the crash of the Dana Flight 0992.  The Minister of Aviation, Stella Odua, and the Director General of NCAA, Harold Demuren, should take personal responsibilities for the crash of the Dana Flight 0992 and resign.

But they will not resign because the panjandrums that run this country are arrogant, lawless and notoriously contemptuous of the Nigerian masses. Sheltered in their cocoon of privileges, consumed by greed, giddy with power and flush with wealth, they trample the law and disregard the constitution.  Consequently, they refuse to recognize that their legitimacy and moral authority derive solely from the trust reposed in their office by the people. And that once they betray this trust, they must resign.

The problem of Nigeria is not lack of the right verbal responses and display of emotions and show of concern for bereaved families in times of emergencies and disasters. It is not in the inability to order investigations or in the dearth of investigators and investigation report writers.

Our problem is lack of accountability in public life. And this breeds corruption and undermines efficiency. It also  imperils a sense of responsibility to the society.

Until there is a modicum of accountability and a sense of responsibility to the people within the ranks of the Nigerian power elite, all the rhetoric, exhibition of concern and the bust of investigations and probes that attended this last air mishap are wonderful, but still, pointless.

Because they will not put an end this  repeated preventable waste of human lives by the Nigerian aviation industry, Ministry of Aviation, National Civil Aviation Authority, and sometimes, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

It is all de je vu. Nigeria has known a series of these air disasters. They were each followed by similar government responses. And temporarily, the airlines sat up and tried to improve their safety standards. With time, they relapsed to their old and sloppy ways.

The officials of government regulatory agencies, because they are corrupt and can be compromised, tolerate this jettisoning of safety measures for profit maximization. And sooner or later, there is another air crash and the same sequence is replicated again, and again and again.

This is so because the reprobates and sociopaths that rule this country are, in steady but imperceptible gradations, reducing her to something of a menagerie.

Mr. TOCHUKWU EZUKANMA, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.


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