He was speaking after laying wreaths at the memorial cenotaph of the 153 victims of last year’s Dana plane crash in Lagos, erected at the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
The cenotaph had the names of all the victims with inscription: “In memory of the crew and passengers aboard Dana air flight 992, June 3rd 2012. In our hearts they will always stay loved and remembered every day.”
The President who was in company of the Aviation Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, said all Nigerians must be vigilant even as the federal government strived to put in place measures that would guarantee air safety.
He recalled the sad incident, saying “precisely on this day one year ago, the tragic crash of Dana Air flight 992 occurred in the suburb of Agege, Lagos State minutes before it would have landed at the Murtala International Airport. All the 153 persons on board plus six others on ground lost their lives. It was a monumental tragedy for the nation.
“I recalled the anguish shared by the entire country. A day later, I went to the scene of the accident to see things for myself in the company of the Senate and House of Representatives chairmen on Aviation. The Nigerian family continues to mourn all those who lost their lives in this unfortunate accident.
“We commiserate with their families, the loved ones especially, on the first anniversary of that terrible tragedy. We also felt and shared the same pain of profound loss for the victims of all other aviation accidents that have occurred in this country.”
President Jonathan however, vowed to guide against reoccurrence, saying “I want to say to all my countrymen and women and the entire world that we will make our air space safe. In this regard, I reiterate our determination to do everything humanly possible to prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate tragedy. In the aftermath of the Dana air crash, additional safeguards to enhance overall safety of flying in Nigeria were immediately put in place”.
He also disclosed that the report of the panel that investigated the operations of all airlines have been implemented. He spoke further, “You will recall that the Minister of Aviation with approval appointed the technical and administrative review panel comprising of highly qualified experienced industry professionals to review the operational, technical and managerial practice that existed in all airlines, who operate domestically.
“The assignment of the panel was separate from that of the statutory investigation of the accident carried out by the Accident Investigation Bureau. The panel was established to uncover any contributory …lapses that may have existed in the industry so that they could be speedily addressed to enhance the overall safety of Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“In its report, the panel made a number of recommendations. Those recommendations have all been implemented by the Ministry of Aviation. In the meantime, the National Aviation Policy was reviewed with a view to further strengthening the safety and operations of the various categories aviation businesses. The new policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council last week.”
“Aviation safety is key, with every incident, new lessons are learnt and no effort is being spared to further enhance the safety nets. We are gathered here today to unveil the cenotaph in memory of all those who have died in the tragic crash of Dana air flight 992 on 3rd of June, 2012.
“This monument is a symbol of our respect for all of them. They will never be forgotten. It is also a perpetual reminder and demonstration of our resolve to do everything humanly possible to ensure that similar tragedies never occur again in this country. As we unveil this cenotaph today, it symbolizes a turning of a new page and a closure of a painful old chapter in our history.”
“Let me again reiterate our resolve to maintain maximum vigilance in strengthening regulation of our aviation industry. Vigilance must be our watchword. We must remain vigilant in our statutory oversight responsibilities. We must never let up. We all have a duty to look and build a viable, prosperous and secure aviation industry,” the President assured.
Speaking during the remembrance service, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah called on the regulatory agencies and the National Assembly to make the necessary laws that will make Nigerian roads and airspace very safe.
“We should not only think of how to make aviation safe but the entire country. Many Nigerians are dying from car crashes than plane crashes. It is also important for us to remember those who take risk to be at the scene of accidents doing the rescue work.
“The will of God is supreme. These are difficult times for our country, but we are going to triumph. Not to triumph because of our efforts, but because of the grace of God.” Kukah said.
The Chaplain of Aso Villa, Obioma Onwuzurumba stressed the need to give thanks to God no matter the circumstance, urging Nigerians to draw inspiration from Apostle Paul in the Bible.