It is sad enough that in less than 24-hours we lost our first lady and an airliner crashed within our boundaries, killing all of our citizens and foreigners on board just like that. The President has ordered 3 days of national mourning for the souls of the departed Loved ones whose family and friends begin the process of coming to terms with Reality – this includes the President himself. Most of us fellow citizens sympathize with him and others at this trying period.
The world, however, is watching how we do things in our third world country, especially with the crash of the 737 Bellview airliner. Fine, we lack the technology to locate the crash site and all that in good time (it took all of 14 hours to find it) but the management of information on the accident amongst other things leaves much to say.
First we heard the Oyo state government (or is it Ogun state?) spokesperson announcing that the crash site has been located at Kisi, a village in Ogun state. Later on the information was updated, saying it was in Lisa, another village in Osun state, north of Lagos. Then came the issue of the number of survivors; first we heard from the same official quarters that there are likely NO survivors from the accident. Then came the news of hope that “more than half” of the accident victims survived. Then again(!) came another update from the spokesperson that all passengers aboard the flight had died from the accident!!
Here is where you begin to wonder where a government spokesperson gets his information. Is it from some random person off the street OR from credible government sources LIVE at the accident site? Or was this spokesperson watching AIT (private TV broadcast outfit in Lagos) to get the information he needed to disseminate to the worried family members of the victims of the accident? Did the spokesperson bother to verify the authenticity of his information at all before releasing the info for public consumption? What manner of spokesperson will subject families and friends of the accident to such torture and ‘abuse’? I mean, this has nothing to do with technology, abi? So na common sense runs now my people. That guy (the spokesperson) had taken the families and friends on an unnecessary emotional roller-coaster ride. His info-management/dissemination skill is just terrible to say the least! CAUTION should be the word in a moment of crisis whether in disseminating information or anything to do with the emergencies.
The accident scene. Now, that’s another serious issue. Pictures and video grabs from the scene showed hundreds of sympathizers and onlookers at the scene. The authorities have a responsibility to restrict access to the crash site because it is a potentially dangerous scene. Apart from that it is temporarily a ‘sacred’ ground where souls of several people had just perished. God forbid any of us having a friend or family who died in that accident; but can anyone here bear the thought of people of all shades walking over the mangled bodies and going through the personal effects of their loved ones? It is an intrusion no matter what intent they have. Covering their noses and all, people in mufti and villagers in ‘booboo’ dress were walking through the debris from the accident. Gingerly they went, noses covered to avoid the stench, stepping over bodies and avoiding hanging bodies in trees from dropping on them! Why won’t the rest of the civilized world look differently at us for Christ’s sake!
There has been some talk about ‘information management’ in this forum recently, again I ask, what kind of information management will change the perception of the world that witness our shoddy management of such situations? Our government TV broadcast video feeds of the crash site showing everything there – mangled bodies of the dead and all to the whole world. This was from our very own NTA!!! Some things are just not right. Graphic pictures of disaster scenes are not supposed to be shown like that on satellite TV! Not in 2005, noooo. Who runs the show at NTA? Have they heard of editing video feeds that will be palatable enough for public consumption?
All the lapses mentioned here at least don’t have ANYTHING to do with technological advancement so we cant use that same old excuse. It is a matter of decency that makes it important for a government spokesman or spokeswoman to verify his/her info before releasing it to the public and families of victims; it is a matter of responsibility that dictates the need for the authorities to secure and restrict access to disaster scenes – to protect the deceased and the living and the privacy of the grieving family and friends. It is human decency that compels those who are responsible NOT to broadcast images of mangled bodies of ministers, tourists, and ordinary citizens involved in an air disaster!
Are we watching this? Is our generation watching this? Our leaders are failing us and disgracing us! I refuse to believe that our generation will follow this same trend. Now that it is OUR turn, we should remember these things and make it our duty to change the trend so we can live with dignity in a civilized world. God bless Nigeria.