Today is June 3, 2013. This makes it one full year since June 3, 2012. June 3, 2012 was a Sunday. It was a day that started like every other day and held much promise for several Nigerians.
On that day, many went to church. Just as the afternoon set in, the nation was thrown into mourning: a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft making a scheduled commercial passenger flight from Abuja to Lagos, Nigeria, had crashed into a building that was said to have housed a furniture works and printing press in the Iju-Ishaga. The aircraft belonged to Dana Air, one of the airlines registered to operate in Nigeria by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
By the time the dust and some settled, about 163 were said to have perished from the air mishap (153 on board and about 10 on the ground). It went into the record books as the second worst air disaster to happen on Nigerian soil ever, the deadliest being the Royal Jordanian Airlines flight 707 Kano crash of 1973 in which 171 Nigerian muslims returning from Mecca and five crewmen died. See http://247ureports.com/nigerias-air-crash-history/ .
The Dana flight 992 McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft was a twin-engined aircraft registered in Nigeria as 5N-RAM. The crash was originally speculated to have been caused by dual engine failure and a preliminary report subsequently released by the Accident Investigation Bureau confirmed this. The report further stated that “the airplane was on the fourth flight segment of the day, consisting of two round-trips between Lagos and Abuja. The accident occurred during the return leg of the second trip. DAN 992 was on final approach for runway 18R at LOS when the crew reported the total loss of power.”
That was a Black Sunday for many Nigerians, particularly for families directly affected by the crash. The list (see full list here: http://www.elombah.com/index.php/articles-mainmenu/11285-full-list-of-dana-air-crash-victims) of those that died cut across a cross section of Nigerians from the corporate world to the clergy. Even children were not spared.
Understandably, there was national outrage when this incident occurred and the airline’s operation was suspended perhaps in line with the mood of the nation at the time. However, the airline has since re-commenced operations and those bereaved are mourning their losses alone. As with everything Nigerian, the issue of compensation by Dana Air and its insurers, Prestige Assurance PLC and Lloyds of London has been poorly handled. In a report accredited to the Minister for Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah, about 30% of insurance claims have for been paid to the families of the victims of the crash (http://tribune.com.ng/news2013/en/news/item/13171-dana-crash-nass-expresses-dissatisfaction-over-compensations.html). Even at that, both Dana Air and its insurers have continued to complain about the shoddy manner about the way insurance claims are being handled.
For the records, Section 48 (3) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act provides as follows: “In any case of aircraft accident resulting in death or injury of passengers, the carrier shall make advance payments of at least US $30,000 (Thirty Thousand United States Dollars) within 30 (thirty) days from the date of such accident, to the natural person or such natural persons who are entitled to claim compensation in order to meet the immediate economic needs of such persons and such advance payments shall not constitute recognition of liability and may be offset against any amounts subsequently paid as damages by the carrier.” The claims out there are that the provisions of this law have been observed in aberration.
The National Assembly through the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Honourable Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the compensation so far paid by Dana Air to family members of the victims of the June 3, 2012 crash.
Money cannot bring back the dead. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows that. That said, if there is a way that loss can be cushioned, then it should be done by all means. An quickly too. The more this drags, the greater the pain and the hardship occasioned by this crash.
Today, I join all Nigerians to mourn those that died in that ill-fated aircraft. I join in mourning Levi Ajunuoma, Ehi Aikhomu, Maimuna Anyene and her three chikdren, and several others. May your souls rest in peace.