July 1, 2012

Visit by Nigerian official capped by tragedy at home

Labaran Maku

ONUMBA.COM For those in the Nigerian Community in Columbus, it was a great visit by a government minister from their homeland.

But sadly, reminiscences of that June 2 jaunt were drowned out by a deadly tragedy back home that left them reeling in a collective grief.

Recently, a cabal of Nigerians in the United States by the name ‘Nigerians in Diaspora Organization America’ (NIDOA) inaugurated its Ohio chapter in Columbus. The event played out at the Aladdin Shrine on Stelzter Road where festivities included music, food, speeches, panel discussion and a few tamed outbursts of weird tantrums.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications Labaran Maku was at the clambake and participated in a panel discussion entitled ‘Nigeria: A New Frontier.’  He spoke at length and took questions from the audience.

The minister, who was accompanied on the trip by the presidential consigliere on ethics and values Dr. Sarah Jibril, told Nigerians that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan is focused on addressing the smorgasbord of problems bedeviling the oil rich West African country, battering the Nigerian society and ravaging lives. 

He conceded that Nigeria is indeed mired deep in a monumental mess, social squalor and apocalyptic economic morose, but he blamed most of it on eons of neglect going back to the military era, and then assured the community that candid efforts are being made by the current People Democratic Party government to pull the economically moribund country out of ravine of despair and into a path of prosperity. He said that the government is growing the economy, promoting technological advancement, working to provide electricity and to improve security.

Frustrated Nigerians have heard it all before and yet not much progress has really been achieved.  But while Maku left them with that nice package of reassuring and hopeful messages on his way back to Nigeria, it turned out it was a trip back with a heavy heart after the tragic news of a Nigerian plane crash in the bustling commercial city of Lagos located in western Nigeria.

Apparently, the doomed Dana Air flight, which was traveling from the capital city of Abuja to Lagos, went down with “153” passengers on board. Reportedly, the American pilot radioed trouble with two engines of the aircraft just before its catastrophic rappel. It was reported in the media that the plane crashed in a densely populated district of Lagos, slamming into a two-story building that instantly erupted in an inferno.

Rescue workers rummaged through the mangled wreckage of humans and shards of what was left of the aircraft and found no survivor. A visibly lugubrious President Jonathan visited the glum site of the crash, calling the tragedy a “setback” for the country and vowed to improve aviation security.


Ike Mgbatogu

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus, Ohio. He can be reached by email at Onumbamedia@yahoo.com.

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