Tuesday, June 11, 2013
DANA AIR CRASH MEMORIAL, SIMPLY THOUGHTLESS.
Icheoku asks what is so important about a tragic accident, especially where it was not terrorist-induced and/or not involving the life of a national leader like a president, to warrant the erection of a memorial? Icheoku queries since when has a horrifying air accident become so "edifying" that a cenotaph had to be erected to remember it forever? Moreso no national figure/s was or were lost in the accident to necessitate a memorial to cement him or her or them forever in Nigerians' national psyche via a memorial.
Sentiments not withstanding, air accidents happen and will continue to happen world-wide including in Nigeria; and Dana Air crash will not be the end it of all air accidents. Air accident is a necessary concomitant of air travelling and so long as humans and science/technology rendezvous and agree to travel through air in a mechanical, sometimes tubular contraption, which periodically is bound to come apart, that long would disasters be expected; except that Icheoku prays they are not a frequently occurring incidents. So Icheoku asks what makes this Dana Air accident so special that it has to be so memorialized? What is the paradigm or reason de`tre here for memorializing this particular air crash and in this particular way, wasting peoples money on cement and mortar, just because some people lost their lives in a probable risk which they voluntarily undertook and which is routinely so undertaken by millions of air travelers around the world without much of an eye-blink?
Icheoku, without equivocation or deference, categorically states that the Dana Air crash memorial was unneeded, unnecessary, unwarranted and a testament in misguided expenditure by a government on a shopping spree and lacking a trajectory of purpose for its being. Simply put, the Dana Air crash memorial was a senseless project by a directionless trial by error government which has not found its compass several years on the navigation deck of the Nigeria ship state. Conversely, a cheque made out by the government to the bereaved families and relatives of those victims would have been a better application of the resources spent on this cenotaph. It would have gone a longer way to palliate their hardship and by extension been a worthier endeavor than a lifeless mass of cement and mortar. Icheoku understands that Nigeria deputy foreign affairs minister, one Onwuliri, lamented that the claim for her husband, a victim of the said disaster, was yet to be paid? Icheoku queries, if this one top heavy of Nigeria government, who could easily cushion the hardship of the loss of a beloved, possibly "bread-winner" is complaining of not having received compensation for her loss, imagine what those other hapless Nigerians, without means, whose primary and sole bread winners were claimed by the tragedy and who also are yet to receive their claims must be going through? Yet a government that is in auto-pilot is busy building and commissioning a useless cement structure called memorial instead of channeling resources wisely and more prudently.
Assuming as a devil's advocate that Icheoku aligns itself with the benefactors herein that the memorial was erected in honor of the lost victims and not necessarily the accident per se, query:- how many such monuments would therefore be erected in the lifetime of the Nigerian Aviation industry, the sordid, parlous and horrendous state of it taken into advisement that many more lives would be lost in the future? Which future accident would thereafter not be worthy enough of a memorial since the precedent has unfortunately now been set with the Ikeja-Lagos Dana air crash memorial? Further, how about the several past air accidents in Nigeria air space, some of which claimed more Nigerian lives than the one in situ? Icheoku asks where is the memorial for the Ejigbo Babangida-fingered air accident that wiped out a crop of young and promising Nigerian army officers? Icheoku queries where is the memorial for the Sosoliso Port-Harcourt plane accident that claimed hundreds of lives of innocent children returning home to their parents on holidays? Who have erected a memorial for the yet another Port Harcourt plane accident in the Atlantic Ocean that claimed hundreds of lives including the poet Claude Eke? What about the Mambilla Plateau Obasanjo-fingered plane accident that wiped out some Nigerian Army Generals? Then relating back, there was the December 1983 Enugu plane accident which claimed hundreds of lives including the daughter of then Anambra State Governor CC Onoh as well as the entire family of then Senator Uche Offia-Nwali, Icheoku asks, where is its cenotaph? The last but not the least, Nigeria must not forget so soon that the Sultan of Sokoto Maccido and his emirate council as well as serving a Nigerian senator and other high ranking Northern personalities perished in another supposedly Obasanjo engineered plane accident in Abuja, Icheoku says, show Nigerians its memorial?
Nigerian officials will not spare a second in analogising that the memorial is similar to what obtains elsewhere especially in America, a country which they always hurriedly refer to in most of their clever-by-half comparisons. Needless to say that they pick and choose their comparisons as it suits their convenient talking points - a case of learning the bird's singing skills without as well learning its flying skills. However the same Nigerian officials will not enlighten ordinary Nigerians, whose tax-payers and oil money is being wasted in this manner, that it is only in certain circumstances such as where such a tragedy was induced by act of third parties and not necessarily act of God that such memorials become necessary. In the United States for example, there is the 9/11 memorial in New York and another in Shanksville Pennsylvania, there is the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu Hawaii and there is also Oklahoma City bombing memorial just to name a few. But in all these cases, the accident or event which affected Americans' general psyche and thus necessitated the erection of these memorials were triggered by third parties - Osama Bin Laden, Japan and Timothy McVeigh; but they were never an act of God such as a purely mechanical failure of a flying aircraft. Icheoku asks Nigerian authorities to show us where the memorial exist for several United States of America air disasters including the Alaskan Air Pacific ocean plunge, the New York Queens Jamaican bound aircraft plunge following 9/11 on 9/13 or thereabout, as well as so many other air disasters similar to the Lagos Nigeria Dana Air accident for which millions if not billions of Naira has just been fretted away in the name of erecting a memorial?
It would have been understandable if the Dana Air disaster was a terrorists event and the people of Nigeria, being so psyche-damaged therefrom, needed something to reassure them that they are still standing and would not be intimidated by it. But erecting a memorial for a purely an accident-event is rather an over-reach of those people in authority in Nigeria as there are so many other things the expenditure would have been better situated than marking a very tragic air accident. Which political leader was lost in the accident that Nigerians should be so compensated with a statue or cenotaph in his or her honor or remembrance? Icheoku asks, henceforth, would there be always a memorial erected for every air accident that might likely occur within Nigeria airspace; and would there be additional structures erected to retroactively mark and "honor" all past air accident victims and they were several hundreds of lost Nigerian souls? Call the observation callous and unfeeling for all Icheoku cares; but the problem with Nigeria is that no one tells people in authority the truth and as a result they speed themselves to self-destruction on the wrong side of developmental needful projects and to their eventual doom that after their sojourn in the seat of power, no one remembers them for the mega projects they executed or laudable policies which they entrenched. They are instead scornfully reminisced for several missed opportunities to do the big things and for a wholesale failure to deliver on the expectations of the populace.
This systematic misappropriation of opportunities is the bane of Nigeria in comatose and it is what engineered the catastrophic cenotaph of thoughtlessness that is Dana Air crash memorial; needless to add that some people made quick money out of it in stacked over-billed invoices. Icheoku and millions of other thinking Nigerians want to know how many such air tragedies will be so cenotaph-ed in the future especially during the lifetime of an administration which profligacy is becoming drunken-sailor like; an administration which seems not to know what its priorities are or ought to be and an administration burdened by the leadership of a president, who is so preoccupied with idleness and suffering from 'nothing to do' syndrome, that he shows up at so many weddings and funerals? Icheoku asks is the seat at Aso Rock now too hot for his butt to sit down and think out solutions to Nigeria's myriad of problems that he goes to even child-naming ceremonies and by extension usurping the supposed duties of his vice president? Icheoku says something is wrong with a country that produces such leadership and something is wronger with such a leadership that cannot strive to assuage the fears of the thinking section of the populace and thereby earn their trust and confidence and peradventure also meritoriously assert its term in office. A joker and/in a country of clowns is never a good mix and you ask Icheoku where are the promised breathe of fresh air themed democracy dividends; except that you just found one in the Dana Air crash cenotaph for crying out loud. Go figure.