It is now one year after the tragic first Sunday in June of 2012 that got Nigeria in world headlines for a plane crash that killed 159 people after crashing into a residential area in Lagos. Dana Air left Abuja for Lagos, and crashed shortly before landing. It brought grief to families and a probe into air safety in Nigeria.
The government suspended the airline, investigated the crash, and then lifted the ban on the airline, allowing them to resume flights months after. Yesterday, the first anniversary of the sad event, there were tributes, ceremonies and unveiling of cenotaph for the victims.
In Abuja, President Jonathan was present at a ceremony at the General Aviation Terminal of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, where he said, “Today I want to say to all my countrymen and women and the entire world that we will make our airspace safe. In this regard, I reiterate our determination to do everything humanly possible to prevent the recurrence of this unfortunate tragedy.
“All the 153 persons on board and six others on the ground lost their lives. It was a monumental tragedy for the nation. We commiserate with the families of all those who lost their lives, especially on the first anniversary of that terrible tragedy. We also feel and share the same sense of profoundness to the victims of all other aviation accidents that have occurred in this country.”
In a related ceremony at the site of the crash, the Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said, “We had experienced a tragic accident whose cause remains yet unknown. But while the cause was at the time unknown, our collective tragedy was immediately unfolding. Many nations and their nationalities from India, China, the United States and Nigeria were united by a common grief: the loss of their loved ones. It was an accident that took place in Lagos. But its impact and reach were beyond our borders. Men and women, Muslims and Christians, Hindus and atheists became joined by a common pain. It was a horrific day.
“A year may seem like a long time, but for the families and friends of the men, women and children we lost, that day does not feel like history. The memories of that day are probably as fresh as they are painful, particularly today when you are forced to confront the thoughts you may have pushed to the innermost recesses of your minds, just to enable you get from one day to the next.
“What does one say at a time like this? What does one say when words will never be enough? Many of us cannot even begin to imagine how great your suffering must have been this last one year. We can only empathise with you, in the vain hope that our empathy will bring some relief. We can only utter words we know will never fill the voids but which we nonetheless pray will bring some comfort.”