EXCLUSIVE: My experience on Ethiopian Airline that nearly crashed in Lagos — Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: Ventures Africa]

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has narrated his experience while on board an Ethiopian Airline flight that nearly crashed on Wednesday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

The airplane, Boeing 777-300, narrowly avoided an accident while trying to land with nearly 400 people on board.

In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Obasanjo said ”he remained calm and read papers while the scary situation occurred.”

“While it all happened, I was reading my papers,” said Mr Obasanjo. “One man, who was next to me, said, ‘Oga you no worry?’ I said, ‘Íf I worry, what will I do? If you are on a plane and you have a situation like this, why should you worry?’ I left everything in the hands of God.”

Mr Obasanjo was returning from a stakeholders dialogue on continental trade and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) which ended on Tuesday in Addis Ababa.

The plane, with 394 persons on board, had a false landing due to strong winds and a heavy downpour and was about to overshoot its runway before it returned to the air.

It later landed safely at the airport after spending about 10 minutes in the air.

Close shave

“I was on Ethiopian Airline. Rain just came down heavily,” Mr Obasanjo recalled.

“The pilot thought he could land. And he landed. He touched down. But I think he took a swift decision that he had to take off again.

“So he took off. If he did not, I think he probably would have overrun the runway. He then apologised and said he would try to land again. He tried again, and we landed safely. And we all clapped.”

The ex-military head of state said the pilot first landed the plane at about 12:20 p.m. before the incident, but finally landed safely on return at 12:30 p.m.

“He touched the ground. Then he took off and apologised and landed again at about 12.30. We spent just about 10 minutes in the air before we landed again,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines recently suffered a crash of its flight ET302 flying its B-737 MAX 800 aircraft in March which killed all 157 persons on board.

The aircraft en route Nairobi from Addis Ababa, crashed six minutes after takeoff around Bishoftu, 40 miles South-east of the Ethiopian capital.

Two Nigerians died in the crash.

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