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Another Air Mishap

Yet another air mishap took the lives of Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state and former National Security Adviser, General Owoeye Azazi, along with Yakowa’s aide Dauda Tsoho, General Azazi’s body guard, Muhammed Kamal and the pilot of the ill-fated chopper. They were flying back from the burial ceremony of the father of Presidential aide, Oronto Dauglas when the chopper plummeted and burst into flames on reaching the ground. And so again like candles in the wind valuable lives of important personalities- one a state governor with vast experience as a technocrat and a politician, the other a retired former military man who until recently was at the helms of the anti-insurgency campaign- have been snuffed out along with their aides and bodyguards.

At a time like this it is customary to commiserate with the bereaved as they commit the remains of their beloved to mother earth and thereafter proceed to bear their private pains and personal anguish over the loss of their dear ones. One wishes them the fortitude to bear their losses. This incident cannot but bring to mind vivid and dramatic images so succinctly captured by William Shakespeare who described the world as a stage and that just as soon as one steps onto it, he also steps off, hinting at the brutal brevity of life itself which underscores the crass waste of existence lived in pomposity, self- importance and cant.

Governor Patrick Yakowa’s unassuming and self effacing attitude was well known which he brought to bear on his administration. His unremitting hard work towards forging accommodation and harmony among the people of the state which he governed, it was learnt, preoccupied his tenure. It couldn’t have been otherwise because of the usually volatile social and religious relations in the state. Patrick Yakowa was a governor of few words, as if he preferred to allow his work to speak for him rather than join in the indecent practice of empty verbiage and hype from the roof-top when indeed there was nothing to show for it. He also eschewed flamboyance and exhibitionism that have become so pervasive as the style of governance which perhaps may have been carried over from his days in the civil service whose unwritten code of unobtrusiveness he took too much to heart. It was understandable therefore that he put the practice of First Ladyship in abeyance in Kaduna State.

At a certain level his death and those of the others could be put down as fate wished it. In other words Yakowa and co were destined to go the way they went and it depicts the powerlessness of the human being even though he pretends to be in control always. Still it could be conjectured that the fatal accident of the chopper that took them to their death in the watery mangrove forest of Bayelsa State could have been prevented. The accident again draws attention to the atrocious air safety records in Nigeria because two major incidents of this nature had happened earlier in the year- namely the helicopter accident that killed the Deputy Inspector General of Police {DIG} Haruna John in Jos on March 14, 2012 and the horrendous Dana Aircraft accident on June 3, 2012. These air mishaps and earlier ones have contributed to cast Nigeria in the image of a country with a nonchalant attitude to air safety.

The popular catch phrase, particularly from those in the sector is that air transportation is the safest. Even if this curious and debatable claim is ignored, it has become very obvious that in our hands aircrafts have become nothing but harbingers of death and sorrow. It is therefore not inappropriate to say that until we are really ready to address issues of safety in the air, emphasis should be placed on road and rail transportation.  As always, official pronouncements have been made about getting to the root of the cause of the accident, while we wait for the outcome the government should seriously begin to address the improvement of roads and railways to make them worthy means of transportation not only for the ordinary citizen but also for those in high positions. May their souls rest in peace.


Babangida Aliyu’s Library

All roads led to Minna, the Niger State capital last week where the 2nd Muazu Babangida Aliyu’s literary colloquium was hosted by the governor himself who made sure to drag Kongi, sorry Wole Soyinka, our own WS to the occasion to lend it the needed weight and respectability. Of course many other established and budding writers were in attendance. According to reports, the highpoint of the occasion was the dedication of a library in honour of late Cyprian Ekwensi, the governor and his people thought it both justified and fitting to claim as a Nigerlite, as my Niger State friends like to refer to themselves. Their reason for laying proprietary right of the literary icon is that he was born in Minna, which also provided the repertoire for most his creative endeavour. On the latter claim anyone in doubt should go and read Cyprian Ekwensi’s Burning Grass or any other of his novels.

Muazu Babangida Aliyu (MBA)’s gesture on Cyprian Ekwensi both in making him a latter day Minna- man as well as a Niger state person and naming a library after him is worthy of praise and emulation. At a time when national honours are bestowed to all- comers, including those indicted for acts that should fetch them imprisonment, a refreshing way is being pointed out that recognition should be due only to the deserving. And Cyprian Ekwensi so richly deserves the recognition, particular on the account that his books were and are still compulsory reading in the formative stages in our school system, contributing thereby to the enlightenment process of generations of Nigerians.

More importantly however is that by sanctifying a library in Cyprian Ekwensi’s name MBA has wittingly or unwittingly pointed out that emphasis should be place on enduring legacies. If well conceived and implemented the library should serve as the place for the store of knowledge and its acquisition both for its own sake and for other purposes is worthwhile. This is a creative move by MBA to re-orientate his people and Nigerians in general that knowledge is valuable and is worthy of everyone’s preoccupation.

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