| By Ishaya Ibrahim |
MANY Nigerians will not forget the year 2012 in a hurry. The year recorded many disasters both natural and man-made. For the first time in many years, the country witnessed unprecedented flooding which ravaged hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland nationwide. The flood not only displaced more than 64,000 Nigerians in different parts of the country including Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Rivers, Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, among others with a death rate of 106, it now poses a serious threat to food security in the country. The flooding started with the River Benue which flows from Cameroon through Adamawa and Benue States to join River Niger at Lokoja, Kogi State. The flood was as a result of the release of water from Lagdo dam, located in Cameroon.
The country was also thrown into national mourning on June 3, this year, when 153 lives were lost as DANA airline flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed into buildings in Ishaga, an outskirt of Lagos State. The disaster robbed Nigeria of a cream of its religious, legal, military, security, academics, banking, oil and gas leaders. The victims included Emmanuel Asuquo Obot, a professor and former executive director of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, an associate of World Wildlife Foundation, WWF.
Others were Levi Ajuonuma, group general manager, group public affairs division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; John Ahmadu, retired deputy inspector-general of Police; Celestine Onwuliri, professor and former vice-chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, who was also the husband of the minister of state for foreign affairs. The trio of lieutenant colonel Chumbo Ochigbo, major I.G. Mohammed and Lieutenant Yusuf Ibrahim were attending the 2nd Commanding Officers’ Workshop in Ibadan, before they met their tragic end.
Also killed in the crash were Ehimen Aikhomu, the only son of the late military vice-president, late Rear Admiral Augustus Aikhomu; Ibrahim Damcida, former permanent secretary in the ministries of finance, industries, trade and defence and a board member of the First City Monument Bank, and Rev Ayodeji Cole, zonal pastor of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM, Abuja, and his wife. Also Maimuna Anyene died in the crash along with her husband, four children, mother-in-law and two cousins, who arrived from the United States to attend a wedding in Nigeria.
On December 15, this year, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, the governor of Kaduna State and Andrew Owoye Azazi, former national security adviser, NSA, were among the six people that died in a helicopter crash in the creeks of Bayelsa State. The deceased left Okoloba community , which was the venue of the burial of Pa Tamunoobebara Douglas, father of Oronto Natel Douglas, special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Documentation and Strategy and were heading towards their hotel in the state capital, Yenagoa when the crash occurred.
On Wednesday, March 14, a helicopter conveying Haruna John, the newly promoted Deputy Inspector General of Police, with three other senior police officers crashed in Jos. The Police helicopter which was to convey the officers from Jos to Abuja, took off from the Jos prison field. However, after one and half kilometer of flight, it crashed killing all the occupants.
On October 25, Danbaba Suntai, governor of Taraba State, and five of his aides narrowly escaped death when a Cessna 208 aircraft marked 5N-BMJ which was piloted by Suntai, reportedly lost contact with the Yola Control Tower 38 miles to landing, after leaving Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, and crashed into a hill in Adamawa. The governor is still recuperating in a German hospital.
There were also road crashes that caused grief to many families. Between May 31 and June 1 this year, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, recorded two major multiple crashes. The first multiple crash took place at about midnight on Thursday, May 31, few kilometres to the Sagamu Inter-change. A trailer carrying some metal products rammed into one of the tankers parked on the side of the road. The impact caused an explosion. The trailer was said to be heading for Ibadan but when it got to the front of Danco Filling Station, it tried to manoeuvre between the trailers and tankers parked on both sides of the road. In the process, one of the metal products fell on one of the tankers and ruptured it. Fuel from the tanker caught fire and began to spread to other trailers. Within a twinkle of an eye, more than eight trucks went up in flames. The incident killed about 10 persons.
The following day, another fuel tanker explosion, which burnt 24 vehicles, occurred on the same Lagos-Ibadan road. The tragedy occurred almost at the same stretch of the road like the one that happened on Thursday, May 31. Fifteen trucks, a luxury bus, five mini – buses, a car and two pick-up vans were burnt in the inferno. Many motorists and their passengers who were coming from various religious camp grounds along the expressway were stranded. In that incident, a fuel tanker had lost control while trying to overtake a lorry on the expressway. The tanker fell, on its back on the expressway and fuel started gushing out of its hold. The spilled fuel led to a fire that affected the other vehicles as the petrol in the 33, 000-litre tanker was spread all over the highway. While the fire was raging, huge billows of black smoke spiralled into the sky. No deaths were recorded in the inferno which caused severe gridlock on the road.
This year also witnessed pipeline explosions caused by oil thieves. On December 10, the serene community of Ije-Ododo, Ijegun, Ojo, Local Government Area of Lagos State was woken by an explosion which was caused by some vandals who went there to scoop oil. Pipeline vandals had earlier killed three staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in a bid to stop the staff from effecting repairs on vandalised products pipeline in Arepo Village, near Lagos in Obafemi/Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, throwing the country into acute shortage of petroleum products.
The country also witnessed many killings carried out by Boko Haram. The sect continued with its relentless attacks on Christians, security personnel and politicians in the year 2012.
— Jan. 7, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT