EnoughisEnough Nigeria: More senseless deaths – what is a Nigerian life worth?

 

 

by EnoughisEnough Nigeria

The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government – Chapter 2, Section 14 2(b), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

A week of explosions and multiple car accidents ended on Sunday, June 3rd with a bomb blast in Bauchi in the morning that killed at least 12 people, and a plane crash in Lagos in the afternoon that killed at least 153. The authorities are still unsure of the number of people who died in their homes and on the streets when the plane crashed in a residential area.

Our deepest condolences to those who have lost friends and family and we wish for unrelenting fortitude to bear the loss. May their souls rest in peace.

Instructively, in the first 5 months of 2012 alone, over a thousand invaluable lives have been lost on our roads, in our hospitals, at the hands of terror groups and now, from a plane crash, most likely occasioned by ineptitude and corruption. Yet our governments whose primary purpose is security and welfare of Nigerians continue to make promises about a ‘transformation.’ We’ve only gone from bad to worse.

The Aviation Sector

While investigations have just begun and are ongoing, we note with concern that issues have been raised about the air-worthiness of Dana’s fleet and two (of 5) of Dana’s aircrafts have reportedly had problems in the last week. Indeed, the concerns and the integrity of aviation safety checks are industry wide.

For travelers – ancient infrastructure; power outages; terrible customer service; delays with no warnings/information and no compensation; inhumane treatment; stories of near misses with aircraft that had to turn back; bumpy landings; endless delays for ‘operation’ or ‘technical’ issues; arbitrary pricing, taxes and fees are everyday occurrences. It is clear that all is not well in the aviation sector. It is therefore very disturbing that when Mr. President was going to talk about the ‘transformation’ in the aviation sector, what he thought important to mention at the site where at least 153 people died was the ongoing renovation works at the nations’ airports.

Emergency Response

We would like to remind the government, relevant agencies and the airline that innocent Nigerians, other than Dana passengers lost life and property to the disaster and efforts to provide relief should be as immediate as recovery efforts on the site. We also note with concern that while military and policemen were speedily dispatched to quell peaceful protests in January, there were inadequate personnel on ground to cordon of the crash area and prevent passers-by from walking freely, looting and tampering with bodies, property and relevant evidence.

Responsible Parties

We believe responsibility lies with three stakeholder groups:

1) Government Agencies: Our government consistently shows that it does not care about the lives and welfare of its citizens. From the Fuel Subsidy probe to the Pension probe to the SEC probe, no one is yet to be suspended, fired or queried. What is the motivation to do what is right when you can get away with doing what is wrong? Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke shed tears as Minister of Transport over Benin-Ore Expressway in 2007. Yet, the rehabilitation work on said road is uncompleted five years on. She’s also still a serving minister and the ministry she oversees has been accused of perpetuating the largest fraud in history worth $8 billion (~N1.3 trillion).

2) Airlines: For awful service and communication channels. On Friday, June 1st, Aero Contractors overissued boarding passes to 60 passengers on an Abuja-Lagos flight. The Station Manager left the passengers to sleep in the airport without providing any information. When the Lagos bound flight departed at 8:15 am on Saturday, June 2nd, no Aero official had addressed the passengers. Dana also released a manifest that not only included personal addresses but phone numbers and email addresses, which is a violation of privacy law. Furthermore, there are names on the manifest that were not on the flight; were passenger IDs not checked before boarding?

3) Nigerians: Who complain quietly about inhumane treatment from the airlines and government agencies, yet rely on God for miracles. We deserve better and we must demand for the best always.

Our Demands:

1) Mrs Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, Minister of Aviation and Harold Demuren, Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be asked to step aside while investigations are ongoing. If they are found to have lapsed in their duties, they should be relieved of their positions forthwith. It is impossible to dispassionately supervise an investigation that involves your office.

2) NCAA should publish, in newspapers and on its website, the safety records of all active aircraft in our local fleet, including ramp checks (results & measures taken); airline audits (results & measures taken); support and audit of Safety Management Systems. This should form the starting point for a public inquiry into the aviation sector.

3) A thorough investigation of the accident by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) conforming to international standards and a public presentation of the findings from the contents of the ‘black box’ as it relates to the crash within 24 hours of submission.

“Cutting corners, praying, ignoring statistics and science, hoping for the best, giving thanks for narrow escapes. It’s no way to live.” – @tejucole

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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EnoughisEnough Nigeria (www.eienigeria.org) is a coalition of individuals and youth-led organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through advocacy, activism and the mobilization of the youth population as responsible citizens. The coalition includes The Future Project; Paradigm Initiative Nigeria; Education as a Vaccine (EVA); Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND); RISE Networks; LYNX Nigeria; Chocolate City Group and EME. EiE Nigeria created the RSVP (Register|Select|Vote|Protect) Campaign to leverage technology, especially social media to mobilize significant participation from citizens in the 18-35 age bloc in the 2011 elections and beyond.

 

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