The flight to farewell By Seyi Olanihun

Once again we’re in a state of mourning. One hundred and fifty three human beings died under tragic circumstances that may well have been prevented. Families, friends, acquaintances and even strangers mourn the passengers and crew of the Dana Air flight of June 3rd. The sorrow that accompanies death is inevitable as the coverage of the people aboard the flight and recovery efforts continue.

The speculations now rife to the true circumstances surrounding the plane crash are not going to abate on account of the investigations that have just been instigated.  This is partly because they are already dogged by doubts as to whether or not they will be thorough and above board, and whether the discoveries will ever be made public. I must say this is not made better by claims that the black box has been recovered and “taken away” in order to find out what actually happened in the last moments of the flight.

It is doubtful too if the press conference to address issues and to refute claims held by the management of Dana Air will be any helpful too.  It is important however to put on record their claim that the ill-fated aircraft was the same one that had developed some fault towards the latter part of May. What will be helpful in all these contentions is whether we can and will discover everything that should have been done to prevent the crash by the company, regulatory agencies, and other industry players.

Once again the gaping holes in our rescue agencies were glaring; the processes that ought to be ‘normal procedure’ during similar incidents were absent…indicating that we are ill prepared for them. These agencies have personnel and equipment that are sadly lacking. The funds allocated for personnel training and equipment purchase, overhaul and maintenance seem to be inadequate. Although when the said amounts come to light, it boggles the mind as to WHY they are in their current state!

The underlying challenge points to corruption i.e. funds have been siphoned or diverted. The fundamental result is that lives are lost, wasted and negatively affected constantly because of it. This national menace has cost us (and continues to) millions of lives, progress and development in every aspect of national endeavour.

Hollywood churns out movies that depict how processes and procedures work and also how they facilitate bravery and heroism. This is no doubt a reflection of the American society despite the regulations already put in place. The fire-fighters, law enforcement officers and other civilians that participate in various aspects of governance have their challenges. In fact corruption isn’t only common or resident in Nigeria…it has different faces worldwide. The management of this entity differs and therein is the crux of the matter. Human lives and its salvage take precedence, life is deemed precious and everything is done with this as the unshakeable foundation. Thus processes, procedures, purchases, training and much more to ensure that life (held sacrosanct) is preserved are constituted and maintained at the highest level.

Every system has its glitches and we know that things aren’t perfect in the developed world. The leaders that serve in these societies are also human and have their flaws. Despite these imperfections, their systems manage to work and quite efficiently too. This is demonstrated time and time again when incidents like what we experienced on Sunday happen but without the type of outright disaster that befell us. In cases where the outcome is similar, investigations are conducted and the result released once concluded with the necessary sanctions implemented accordingly.

Dana Air has had its license revoked and I’m not certain that’s the best response. A thorough investigation of all operators, aircraft and equipment with corresponding sanctions (if necessary) could be a first step. Penalties and deadlines to rectify situations outside regulations and lastly sanctions i.e. suspension and eventually license revocation when defaulting companies fail to comply.

Unfortunately, this will not bring back those that died on Sunday, but hopefully will safe guard against foolhardiness from any aviation operator now and in the future. Ethical conduct and practice is required in every area of human endeavour and when this is permitted to permeate and becomes societal norm is when we can truly say that we have a free and just society.

 


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