(Vanguard of Sunday, September 24, 2006)
Let us step aside for a minute to send our loving thoughts to accompany to where they came from, those gallant men in arms we lost when the aircraft they were flying in crashed into a fog-covered mountain on their way to Obudu Ranch, Cross River State last weekend.
They came here at different times through different mothers, grew up to pick a career which brought them together in a profession that involves the defence of the territorial integrity of their country. They rose in the ranks, and stood high as the cream of our proud men in arms.
And in just one day, we lost a whole generation of this officer corps! Thirteen of some of the finest officers we have had. It would be tragic in war, even expected. But in peacetime!
I refuse to accept that this is one of those things we should put on the doorstep of God as ordained. Yes, when we come, we must go. I saw one mourner on television saying we cannot say how we go, and when we go. That is true when we follow the rules of life, but we do have a choice in how we can go, even when, when we exercise our free will without regard for the rules.
Exercise of free will without due divine process cuts God directly out of our affairs. Believe it or not. When you exercise your free will and it happens not to be in line with what God has willed, in spite of what you think is right or wrong, you are on your own.
God did not ordain suicide and if you say God called you to die by hanging from the pole at the back of your house, you lie. God’s is not the only voice that comes through when you open your inner ears. The voice may even come from Satan himself, wearing the robes of an angel. So if you listen and drink acid in answer to the voice you heard, you are on your own.
There is no accident in nature, and God has never ordained any accident. God did not ask for the twin towers in New York to be blown up. Human beings took that decision. It is now history that the planning was carefully done, even over years.
God was never there when it was done. Satan may have been witness to it, or been its coordinator. But leave God out of evil.
To make things simple for me, so that I do not unduly stretch issues I know little about, I depend wholly, solely and exclusively on the saying that what you sow grows and ripens for you to harvest. That is that you reap what you sow.
I therefore do not blame anyone for errors of whatever description. If you jump from the 36th floor of a building, you will plunge to your death. I do not know why God should send an angel to get hold of you on your way to your predictable end so that you will live to give testimony of idiotic behaviour.
On many occasions, I have traveled to Innsbruck which is referred to in Europe as the Roof of the World. Down below in your about an hour’s flight from Frankfurt is snow. The propeller plane is like a winged butterfly, shivering through the dense and cold wind of the Alps. I have never heard of any crash there.
One day, I flew from Rome to Bucharest in Romania. It was all through snow. You could not see beyond your nose. The plane took off, in fog, flew through fog all the way and we landed in snow and fog. There were instruments therein to help navigation!
Are the elements there not available to effect the accidents that come our way this often? And if God ordained them, why would the president be asking for a ban on tokunbo aircraft?
But for some quick decision the other day, our own president’s aircraft which was supposed to be fresh from the factory would have given us cause for concern. His flight had to be aborted.
The serviceability of an aircraft is not necessarily a function of its newness. There is a record of things to be done at times listed for them to be done. The service must be effected when it is due, and these services are graded checks. No cutting corners.
A 25-year-old aircraft that has been regularly serviced can be more dependable than a brand new aircraft which is due for the first check which was not done. We have been cutting corners with the aviation authorities and been paying dearly for it.
God is a pilot of order and discipline, not a Being that can be bribed to save lives that have been endangered through neglect.
My contribution here to the wasting of the lives of our national military icons is not to deny that the aircraft was airworthy. No. I am upset that up to now we have failed to equip our aircraft with necessary instruments for their take-off and for their landing.
Why are we still depending on whether there is harmattan haze or not before we take off for Abuja or Kano? Or whether there is rain in Lagos? How do they do it in England and in America and in Russia and in Dubai? We travel these routes daily, visiting areas of more import to us. But what do we learn from what we see?
The President is bold enough to say today that never again shall we have a situation when we are in a position to lose one Nigerian through carelessness. It is a long way to that destination but a journey of a hundred miles starts with one step.
In spite of the many volumes of literature we may have on any issue, one mind may have centered it all. One man can bring a difference people thought would be impossible if there is the will to solve problems. How long for did the economic team brought together by the President work before we achieved this level of commendation from all over?
That I do not share their vision does not undermine what others saw as their success. History is witness to the many things people thought could never be done. And in any case, the very fact that you can harbour a thought is the first level of downloading it to this earth plane because thoughts belong in the world of matter. Even beyond the level of thoughts are things revealed through prophets. Why do we reduce our potentials through self-imposed limitations?
I have been pleading for two weeks now for us to go back to Vision 2010 and adopt it as our working document to grow this country. It has inbuilt mechanisms for updating it and upgrading records.
The goals set for us by Breton Woods institutions are too general to be the salt we need in our soup. If we do not like the vision being associated with Abacha, we can be consoled that Abacha himself did not seem fully sold on it as what we needed to take off.
He had a body to inaugurate to set the ball rolling. As chairman of that body, one would have thought that Earnest Sonekan who was the known man on the driver’s seat would have been number two to help push the buttons. But no, he was number 35 on the implementation list!
I knew Sonekan was a brain behind the scheme because Abacha told me it was Sonekan’s idea when I met him early in 1998.
Why should Obasanjo not inaugurate a Council to revisit the vision so that we can start this journey on a surer note instead of looking for one that can sustain his programmes?
I have said it many times that all those things being done are part and parcel of what we have right there on the table to make this country what it can be. There is no doubt that Nigerians want change.
It is well settled in the Vision 2010 Document. See this, “To make this change happen, Nigerians expect the government to lead the effort. However, as indicated earlier, the average Nigerian doubts government’s commitment to the implementation of the Vision 2010 programme.
“Some of the reasons have to do with past, but unsustained initiatives of government such as Operation Feed the Nation, (OFN), Ethical Revolution, War Against Indiscipline (WAI) and War Against Indiscipline and Corruption (WAI-C); general distrust of the leadership – a situation which has built up over the years; and poor or non-implementation of past plans and budgetary measures.
“For change to happen, and for all Nigerians to be committed to it, there must be positive signals from government to give them a reason to hope and act. The challenge is to ignite the latent energies in the people.”
How do we ignite the latent energies in the people when we watch helplessly as our leaders exchange punches in the market place? Whose cause is being served? Whose cause?
(Vanguard of Sunday, September 24, 2006, and Democracy Watch: A Monitor Diary, Vol. 2, pages 201-204)