On Sunday, June 03, 2012, in the residential Lagos suburb of Iju-Ishaga, death announced, in a broadcast of raging inferno, the unfortunate annulment of numerous lofty achievements and nourished ambitions. Corporate managers, accomplished academics, business pundits, young executives, fresh graduates, ambitious youths and promising kids were cruelly cut down in one of the goriest fashions imaginable. A number of such tragedies had occurred in recent years with ADC, Bellview, Sosoliso and other domestic air carriers in the country. But Dana Airlines, which bore the misfortune of being the courier of death this time around, somehow set an implied metaphor for DANA – Death Annuls Nourished Ambitions!
Tears, anguish, grief and sorrow would always compete for right of way where tragedy crash-lands, in a head-on collision, into calamity. The mood of the nation, betraying irrepressible outbursts of emotion, even several months after the reality horror movie, vividly captures the magnitude of the readings on the Ritcher scale of catastrophe. Whole families, affectionate siblings, young and old couples, within touching distance of destination, suddenly disappeared somewhere inside the short distance between air and land. What a cruel way to proffer a destabilizing explanation of Armageddon!
Take the tragic case of the Anyenes. A man, his wife and all four children of theirs, a nuclear family in its entirety, within some cruel minutes of fatality of fate, disappeared into thin air without trace, never to be seen again, either by themselves or anyone else! Looking back again at the pictures of those poor innocent little kids, exuding charm, liveliness, promise and perhaps ambition, under the nourishing arms of their hopeful parents, it rankles in ones mind the evil that death did in leveling the radiant peak of expectations into a flood plain of despair.
They were not alone, though. In December, 2005, a Sosoliso aircraft suffered a similar fate within the vicinity of the Port Harcourt airport. Scores of young students of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja were trapped inside a flying coffin performing a masquerade dance in thick smoky balls of fire. Weeping, wailing, mourning and gnashing of teeth were enveloped in anguish as hapless waiting parents watched, with agonizing helplessness, as their children roasted alive. So tragic was the case of an ageing couple who lost all their three children that even the Cable News Network (CNN) did a documentary on it. What a chilling way to announce and receive the horror news of how death annulled nourished ambitions!
The strike force of DANA operates, like the American Navy SEAL, on sea, air and land. The mayhem that trailed the announcement of the April, 2011 presidential election result glaringly exposed the socio-political nudity of a nation. A satanic group of “animals in human skin,” whom the legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti labeled “beasts of no nation,” reaching for the peak of bestiality, unleashed a reign of terror in Bauchi and some other states in the North. By the time they faced belated state resistance, at least ten youth corps members, who dutifully and patriotically answered the call to national service, had been mowed down in somewhat gruesome manner. Chilling spectacle of sliced skulls and butchered limbs of youngsters expected to bring some succour to the socio-economic anguish of their toiling parents again announced how death annulled nourished ambitions.
The organizers, sponsors and perpetrators of those satanic acts have yet to be publicly identified and brought to book. The rate at which people do evil things and get away with them in this country is becoming unbearably discomforting. The battered and bruised corpers who survived the mayhem were, in May 2011, promised automatic employment on completion of their NYSC programme by the federal government. In June, this year, a national newspaper did a feature on how these unfortunate ones were still waiting endlessly for the fulfillment of the presidential promise.
Situations such as these informed the national outrage that greeted the lifting of the suspension of Dana Airlines operating licence by the federal government. Aviation expert, Captain Dele Ore, while welcoming the lifting of the suspension, insisted steps must be taken to make the Nigerian airspace safe. He was probably only submitting the problem was not necessarily about Dana Airlines but general insecurity in the land. We agonize, on a daily basis, under the yoke of no security in the air, on water and on land. We co-exist, while suffering and smiling, with fear of the unknown in our public places, on the streets and even in our homes.
Families of the victims of the Dana air crash at a meeting with Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, echoed Ore’s position by stressing the need to use the traumatic experience of the crash as an opportunity to clean up the aviation sector. They also demanded that the details of what culminated in the crash be made public. In this regard, it is important to also make public the reports of similar crashes in recent years which hitherto appeared to be on the way to their safe haven under the carpet.
Death Annuls Nourished Ambitions (DANA)! Nigeria has lost too many precious innocent souls including promising young ones in avoidable circumstances. Suicide bombings, highway robbery attacks, boat mishaps, highway accidents facilitated by unmotorable roads and questionable air crashes make an endless list. All these man-made disasters which, through acts of commission or omission, create, promote and nurture the climate of DANA in the country must be checkmated. No opportunity of a wake-up call could be more germane than this.
Dana Airlines could stay and resume its operations in the country. But for Goodness sake, DANA must go!