My only sister has 3 kids. The first two are currently in boarding school while the much younger third, is already as independent as they come. My sister isn’t complaining, as she constantly talks about the renewed freedom she enjoys from not being tied to dependent children. She’s enjoying time with her husband again and is the happier for it.
She was on her way back to her Abuja home from Kaduna with her husband about 2 weeks ago after a good weekend away when everything changed. She had bought one of those glossy fashion magazines and was buried in its pages looking through pictures while her husband sitting beside her was fast asleep.
About an hour away from Abuja, she looked up at the rearview mirror from where she could see the driver. She noticed his eyes were closed and it wasn’t him blinking. Was he asleep? Less than a second later, she noticed they were dangerously close to a truck right in front of them. She tried to call on the driver to wake him up to what was about to happen. It was too late. Before the words came out of her mouth, the car was in the air flipping from one side to the other eventually stopping at the side of the road after the 4th flip, where eyewitnesses rushed to save them.
Interestingly, the driver and her husband were unharmed while she had a broken jaw and bad neck. Ultimately, the good old seat belt had saved them. We all heard the news and cursed out the driver and prayed and thanked God and commiserated with her and hoped for a speedy recovery. She of course had to take time off work to heal properly as a result.
Some of her colleagues had come to visit her at home and had said they would be traveling to Lagos on a training course. She had to miss it because of her health and she didn’t find it funny. We all know that workers live for the extra allowance (per diem) that comes with trips outside the city but she would have to sit this one out. They all laughed and hoped she got well soon to join them back at work for future trips.
When news of the Dana Air crash started coming in, she had a bad vibe. First of all, if she had been well enough to make that trip to Lagos, she would have flown Dana Air. Maybe not that particular flight, but it would have definitely been Dana because they used to be her first choice. But that was beside the point now. She needed to be sure her colleagues were not on it. So she dialed the first number and it was switched off. She dialed a second; off. The third didn’t respond either. Maybe they were still airborne on another flight.
But she knew her worst fears were probably true. And they were… In one fell swoop; about 16 of her colleagues, 5 of who were in her immediate department with offices and tables right around hers, were gone. Some of them had been at her home just a few days earlier to thank God for saving her life in an accident. How could this have happened? How did a terrible accident just a few days ago suddenly save her life ultimately from an air crash? Most importantly, why did she deserve to live and her other colleagues didn’t?
There we were, suddenly caught with the fact that some disappointments could actually be blessings in disguise. But for many others, it can almost never be understood.
I sit today and look at The Anyenes, who have sadly become the poster family for the Dana Air crash and start to wonder, why them? What makes my sister or Iyanya or Frank Edwards or anyone of us who was saved from that flight better than them? Why did innocent children have to die? Why did they have to die such a sad painful death? There have been too many sub stories after this crash that it makes it hard for anyone to focus and stay positive.
Then I start to imagine that God probably didn’t want their innocence corrupted by Nigeria and what it has become.
A country that would let them die because a community that is deemed good enough to be inhabited by human beings, cannot be easily accessed by emergency workers.
A country, where emergency services are everything but an emergency.
A country where houses are built without regulation and access roads are not priority.
A country where people are so poor that their first instinct is to scavenge and get what they can from a crash site, hampering rescue efforts.
A lot of couples who died on Sunday also have young children just like my sister and her husband. Reverend Cole and his wife have left kids behind. Jeremiah and Josephine Okechukwu have left 3 young kids behind. It is tough to just accept that they have all died in vain. It will be even tougher to make these kids understand that it was their parents’ time, just like that.
We cannot continue like this. We just CANNOT!
While we wait for the investigation on the crash itself to commence and give us answers, we need to sit up and fix things that OBVIOUSLY need fixing. Talking about fire trucks with no water in 2012 is unacceptable. People living without proper infrastructure shouldn’t be an option. Most importantly, Nigerians dying for avoidable reasons is a collective shame on all of us and whether we like it or not, God will not come down and fix things. Only us will…
RIP to the 153+ Dana Air crash victims…