The Associated Airlines (AA) plane crash which occurred in Lagos on Wednesday, October 03, 2013 is the sixth air crash involving commercial airplanes since 2005. It represents a major departure from the established trend of plane crashes in the country in recent times.
Prior to the Black Thursday incident, one of the ways an observant person may choose to avoid the risk of being involved in a plane crash in Nigeria is not to travel on weekends. For some reasons all the plane crashes since the Bellview Airline crash in 2005 that claimed the life of my colleague and friend – John I. U. Udeka – and over 100 others all occurred on weekends. Now the AA crash has dented the reasonableness of such probabilistic estimations.
In terms of flight duration before crash, the AA crash has beaten the ADC Airline plane crash that occurred in Abuja on October 29, 2006 to second place.
The reactions to this recent crash have followed the usual pattern: expression of shock, angry outbursts, a flurry of condolences, calls on the government to revamp the aviation industry and temporary ban on the airline. There is also a fatalistic twist to the incident in that some people said there was a prediction that the incident would happen.
Where does this leave us as a people?
These are my thoughts:
- There’s a problem (that’s stating the obvious).
- The problem is the reason for decadence in every facet of our economic, social and political life.
- We’ve not accurately defined our problem. So the proffered solutions amount to knee-jerk responses to the symptoms of the problem.
- Those charged with the responsibility to define and solve the problem either lack the will, intellectual capacity or are benefiting from the problem (hence no incentive to solve the problem).
- Those that have the will and intellectual capacity to solve the problem, and utter disgust for the problem are fearful, indifferent, uninterested, self-preserving, or indigent, among other reasons.
- Points 1 – 5 above guarantee that we make no progress.
What’s the problem?
The problem is with everything that represents headship (from the family to the presidency) in our society. We’re not thinking because our thinking faculty, the head, is in disarray.
The responsibility for providing a solution to a problem rests on the person with the authority to effect a change. For instance, in my house, I am the one responsible because the authority lies with. I understand one of the key studies in leadership: rationality. I discuss issues affecting my nuclear family with my wife and children but I take the final decision for which I am responsible.
The argument is some quarters that the problem in the country is with the ‘followership’ or both the leadership and ‘followership’ is dubious, at best. To expect 160 million people to agree on the best course of action is both unintelligible and unattainable. The success stories in families, business and government support this viewpoint. It is also supported by sound economic principle: “What individuals want is in the aggregate a situation nobody wants… human wants are multiplicative, not additive.”
The summary is that unique solution to a problem is almost always arrived at by imposition. That is why leadership is most important.
What’s the way forward?
In order to move forward, we have a few lessons to learn from the force opposing our progress. These include:
- They are few.
We don’t need 10 million Nigerians, at least at the strategic level, to bring about the positive change we want to see. It will result in an unwieldy association that will go nowhere. We need few committed people.
- They are united.
This is achievable, largely, because of the small number of the opposing force as highlighted above.
- They have common interest
What keeps them united is their common interest: looting of natural resources. Our common interest is the progress of the nation.
- They have established schemes of inducements and deterrents
This is the ‘What is in it for me’ factor for joining any association. The opposing force has these schemes in place and we see it play out at different times.
We need a creative way of protecting the personal interests (economic security, threat to life, etc) of those driving the change. The deterrents may include social stigmatization.
This is a call to use our willpower and intellectual endowment to save our nation from the abyss it’s headed. It is a tough but well deserving call.
God bless Nigeria!