June 5th, 2012
emotional note your assertion that there will not be a
recurrence of the air disaster is understandable and is well
taken but it a fantasy at best.
The Dana Airline’s McDonnell Douglas MD-83
which perished more than 153 travelers and residents is a
great shame as it was a disaster waiting to happen.
Mr. President, it could be said that the
ministry of aviation under your watch may have been trying
to improve on the health of aviation in Nigeria; the current
occurrences do not support such attempts.
Mr. President this crash could have been
avoided, if the nation’s regulatory agencies were up and
doing in their responsibilities, given the apparent reports
that this very airplane had a long and bad history of being
mechanically deficient. And it certainly would be most
surprising if this history of faultiness was new to the
Nigerian aviation authorities.
Mr. President, like everything else in
Nigeria the country remains a dumping ground for most things
rejected from the Whiteman’s land.
Nigeria, as a land known for its ingrained
corruption, deep-seated indifference and inadequate record
management it is possible that the worst of the worst
airplanes are all over the country.
Mr. President, like you in terms of your
tearful visit to the site of crash in my role as a human
psychologist in America for almost three decades till my
recent return home it is profusely tearful and painful for
me to know that this same plane was a reject from America.
Mr. President, it is not surprising that in a
country where our people are helpless over what the
government does that this American-built airplane was once a
piece of mechanical nuisance. A cause and a curse that
resulted in its original owners, an American-based Alaska
Airlines selling it to the Dana Airlines in early part of
2009. The sick plane which was used from 1990 to 2009, and
then dumped on the Dana Airlines for an apparently good
price for the India Company would enter Africa and settle in
Nigeria—where anything goes apparently.
Now we know from America that in November of
2002, the plane had severe mechanical faults, suffered from
overheated light ballast, and in August of 2006, it had a
smoking problem due to a chaffed wire bundle that was
discharging and passengers had to be quickly moved out upon
landing in Long Beach, California.
With all these life threating problems a
plane such as this dumped on us having been certified by
Nigerian aviation experts!
Mr. President, in your time our
administrators including those in aviation should stop
playing with the lives of Nigerians, especially now that we
know that this same fatal plane reportedly continued to have
problems in Nigeria as recently as a few days ago.
Mr. President, with tears in my face the
colonial mentality that anything or anybody from the
Whiteman’s land is better than anybody black is why a
mechanically disturbed plane like the MD-83 with an aged
background of 1983 would be certified as a go-ahead aircraft
in Nigeria. Mr. President, this wrong!
Many of these deficient and aged planes are
made worse by the Nigeria-conditions in regards to our
aviation environments which are marked with poor
electricity, and periodic failures of diesel generators
which could affect everything from radar screens to all
forms of communications.
Mr. President, as a practicing
clinical/forensic psychologist it is a fact that pilots in
places like America go through a series of psychological
testing as it is away to monitor pilot’s mental health,
judgment, insight, alertness and problem solving skills.
Psychological testing which should be routine and recurrent,
is not the same thing as psychiatric testing which is more
about medication-based mental health assessment and
Psychological testing it is about personality
characteristics and intellectual competence. Psychological
health is a very essential aspect of safety therefore pilots
flying in Nigeria should be tested by competent clinical
psychologist as part of pre-employment and post-occupation
requirements in Nigeria.
They should also be subjected to at least an
annual medical certification examination by an ethical
physician. Also video monitoring of what is happening in the
cockpits of all planes is needed as it could enhance safety.
Mr. President, given that air business is
risky our air controllers could also benefit from
psychological testing as there have been various problems in
The improvements in equipment and procedures
in any matter involving air transportation is essential
therefore for the benefit of all flyers every problem
involving air safety no matter how minimal should be quickly
investigated and corrected. This correction must be
supported with documentation in electronic, internet and
paper forms, followed by public announcement on radio and in
There is also need for proactive safety
checks and monitoring of pilots and aircrafts to ensure full
quality assurance and continued aviation safety in Nigeria.
Mr. President, the saying by many Nigerians
that some of stated recommendations are “things that they do
in overseas and that we have not reached that point yet”
makes many reasonable persons headache-bound as these are
common sense procedures that are common to all humanity.
Mr. President, life in Nigeria has in the
recent months been touched by numerous painful events and
occurrences but for lessons to be learnt with regard to
these challenges; appropriate, ethical and standard ways of
being functional must be carried out and accomplished during
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., is an
Abuja-based Forensic/Clinical Psychologist. Jos5930458@aol.com