When I first heard the news about the plane crash, I had just been listening to World Service edition of From Our Own Correspondent, one of the best examples of radio anywhere in the world. The eponymous correspondent was Kieran Cooke, ironically, had been talking about a mishap when he was on a plane in Nigeria. He found the Nigerians' response to such a potential tragedy humourous and endearing. He must listen to the news of the ADC crash now and not see the funny side of his mishap anymore.
The FOOC piece was on the African news page of the BBC yesterday, but has since been taken off. One wonders if it had anything to do with treating the crash with sensitivity. Someone asked me why prominent Nigerians people always seem to be in plane crashes. Well, rich Nigerians have no option but to travel by air. If a plane is departing from or flying into Abuja, it will inevitably have Senators or Congressmen on the flight.
My mama sent me text message from Lagos last night saying, "No rail, no road, people travel by air - it's a problem." That is the crux of the Nigerian transport system. It isn't so much to transport living bodies from one place to another, but almost a conduit of souls to the afterlife. The grim reaper stands at the transit points, airports, and bus depots. So this is how you wish to die. Mid-flight, armed robbery on the highway, car crash after hitting a crater on something people still amazingly call roads instead of dirt tracks? The man in the hooded cape holding a scythe would have offered the choice of despatching you on a railway track, except Nigeria barely has any.
Of course the issue of accountability arises again. Last year, it was deemed that Babalola Borishade should stay and fix the mess of the Sosoliso and Bellview crashes. Granted. But his staying gives no indication of where the buck stops. He has been silly enough to blame the pilot for the crash. The pilot apparently ignored control tower advice not to take off until weather conditions were better. This begs two questions. Why is the opinion/advice of the control tower not enforceable? And why is the safety of the passengers and the plane not put before profits? I can see no other reason why the pilot would be rushing to Sokoto, other than to minimise ground time, and make some more money on the return flight.
If we can still suffer another fatal crash one year after Bellview and Sosoliso, there is much that Borishade is doing wrong. As the headmaster of a failing school or the captain of a faltering ship would do, he should go. Walk the plank, jump or be pushed.