At 3:42pm yesterday, hundreds of mourners at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos, observed a minute silence in honour of the 153 victims of the Dana Air plane crash.
It marked a fortnight since the crash. Their message was: 3:42pm of Sunday, June 3, 2012 must not be forgotten.
The mourners, who are families of the victims and well-wishers, lit 153 candles . And as the names of each of the victims were read at the candle light service organised by Safe Excellent Efficient Developed and Secure (SEEDS), the audience chorused “Rest in Peace”.
The event, said the organisers, was also to show solidarity with the displaced residents of Iju-Ishaga, where flight 9J-992 crashed.
A director in Dana Air, Guatamani Hathiramani and its Communications Manager, Mr. Tony Usidamen, attended the service.
An Islamic cleric from the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Zakariya Thani, said the incident has united Nigerians in grief.
Thani said: “We know that it is God who has the power to allow any issue to either come to pass or not. As such, this sad incident has awakened us all to sad realities that have become the bane of our nation in ways beyond our imaginations.
“We have now come together to call on God to dry our tears and console us all and as well soothe the nerves of the affected families, grant eternal rest to all the departed and never allow any such occurrence to befall our beloved nation, Nigeria, again.
Thani urged the Federal Government to thoroughly investigate the cause of the disaster He said: “Any failure on the part of the government to do what is right in this sensitive period will further compound Nigeria’s already confused status.”
In his sermon, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of the Trinity House, said: “The flight victims could have been any of us. Indeed, my wife could have fallen victim had she accepted an assignment she was invited to come and do in Abuja and return that same day; probably, with the same flight. So, the victims of the plane crash had inadvertently become ‘super stars’ as they have now paid the supreme price.
“The 153 or thereabout victims have further exposed the corruption, bad governance, sins in high places, bloodshed at various levels, failures of leadership, misgiving and all the bad things our country has been subjected to for many years. Their deaths bring to fore the ills in our country; but obviously, God will use this incident to turn things around for good once and for all in our nation.”
While praying for the families of the victims, Ighodalo urged them to take heart as God was with the victims at the time the incident happened.
He said: “And it is not out of God’s power to avert the crash if that was His wish. So, whether we are alive is not what matters to God. What matters to Him is the way we all live good lives while we are here...”
Mrs. Adeola Johnson, who lost a relative to the crash, said: "I'm not sure we have ever learnt any lesson from happenings in this country and this is why things seem to be getting worse. Therefore, all Nigerians must use this crash as a rallying point to demand good governance."
Nollywood actress Kate Henshaw said the only way to show true empathy to the bereaved families was for the airlines to put their aircraft in order and ensure that the country will never witness any air crash again.
SEEDS’Project Coordinator, Ms. Iretiola Bakare, told The Nation that the service was its own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Ms. Bakare said: “We also saw the need to bring succour to the displaced families of Iju-Ishaga . We suddenly realised the urgency of getting this done because it was not the fault of the people to find themselves homeless for no fault of theirs.
“Already, we have accommodated about fifteen of the displaced people in a home we got in Ogba, Lagos. We have distributed to them clothing and other useful items we were able to garner from concerned Nigerians and even some from other African countries, which shared the grief with us since the last two weeks.
“We are taking these things one step at a time so that while we are dealing with the people, we are able to identify with their pains and address issues towards getting their hearts healed.”