President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and governor Babatunde Fashola unveil cenotaphs in honour of the June 3, 2012, Dana air crash victims in Abuja and Lagos
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
JUNE 3, 2012, will remain ever-green in the memories of many Nigerians, especially the affected families. It was the day the ill-fated Dana plane crashed and killed all the 153 passengers on board. One year after, Nigeria and, indeed, the whole world marked the first anniversary of the plane crash. The victims were honoured by the federal government and the Lagos State government.
While unveiling a memorial cenotaph to mark the anniversary in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan said that Nigeria would continue to mourn all who lost their lives in the accident. According to the president, Nigerians still feel the same sense of profound loss over the victims of all other aviation accidents that have occurred in the country. He also reiterated the commitment of his administration in ensuring that Nigerian airspace was safe and noted that after the air crash, government had put in place additional measures to ensure overall safety of flying in Nigeria.
“On this day, one year ago, the tragedy of flight 992 occurred in the suburb of Agege, Lagos, in Lagos State, minutes before it would have landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. All the 153 persons on board plus six others on the ground lost their lives. The Nigerian family continues to mourn all those who lost their lives in this unfortunate accident; we commiserate with their families and loved ones especially on the first anniversary of that terrible tragedy. We also feel and share the pains of the fallen lost and for the victims of other aviation accidents that have occurred in this country. We will make our airspace safe. In this regard, I reiterate our determination to do everything humanly possible to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy,” the president said.
On the cenotaph, President Jonathan said that it was a symbol of respect for the victims. “This is a symbol of respect for the victims of the Dana air crash, because they will never be forgotten. It is also a perpetual reminder and a demonstration of our resolve to do everything humanly possible to ensure that similar tragedies never recur again in the country. As we are unveiling this cenotaph today, it should symbolise the turning of a new leaf and a closure of a painful old chapter in our history. Let it represent our resolve to maintain maximum vigilance in safety regulation of our aviation industry. Vigilance must be our watch word, we must remain vigilant in our safety oversight responsibilities, must never let up, we all have a duty to look in the future and build a viable, prosperous, safe and a secure aviation industry that each and every one of us would feel confident to patronise and which serves our country well.”
Also, in Lagos, Babatunde Fashola, governor of the state, honoured the victims at the crash site. He said in as much as it was a tragedy that brought everybody together in the area, to him, the real tragedy to befall us would be to forget what happened. “We must never forget. The cenotaph which we are unveiling today will ensure that their memories never die.” The monument, he noted, would stand as a permanent memorial to these families’ relations, women and children. “Even in the midst of tragedy, there are always flickers of optimism, of hope. I cannot begin to even name some of the people who joined in local rescue efforts because they went about their tasks diligently and anonymously. None of them ever asked this government for any reward. None of them asked for any special recognition. A sense of duty and goodwill to their effort, we also commend you today,” he said.
Fashola, noted that one year after the crash, the site has been transformed into a beautiful memorial arcade, the size of a quarter of a football pitch, while new roads with street lights have been constructed around the arcade for easy access.
Speaking on behalf of the victims’ families, Ben Ayene, who lost nine relations in the crash, said the accident could have been avoided, if all the necessary precautions had been taken. According to him, the crash could have been avoided if we live in a country where life is valued. “We should not throw up our hearts to say it is an act of God. Nigeria must learn to fear God, rather than deride Him. To the federal government, there should be total commitment to openness, accountability and transparency. The aviation sector should be manned by people with proven competence and integrity. Nigerians should demand and work for a safer sky to avert any future recurrence,” he said.
Also, Jacky Hathiramani, managing director of Dana Airlines, said that more than 23 of the families involved in the airline’s plane crash had received full compensation of $100,000 as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO.