In fact, it may not be fair to specify soldiers. Rather, it is a human problem all over the world. Humanity is here this minute and gone the next. The only difference is that this is Nigeria, where nobody dies but is killed. That is according to ever-ready professional anarchists who seize on every tragedy or setback to poison the minds of fellow citizens with dangerous convenient insinuations.
By the way, even in a national tragedy, the pattern seems to be the same in Nigeria. Till the burial on Saturday morning when the list of the deceased was half-heartedly released, it was the same pattern with different figures stated. It can only be hoped that whatever benefit might be due to the dependants of the deceased would not be padded with strange ghosts. Defence Minister Magashi must be alert.
I would be a surprise if one or more or all the deceased, one after another, did not, in the human tradition, make a last-minute phone call before the aircraft took off, assuring the other end to contact immediately after landing. In some cases, such assumed contact, usually taken for granted, never materialised as the plane would have crashed, as in the case of the late General Attahiru and his men.
They would not be the first to die on duty in such circumstances, whether in Nigeria or any other part of the world. And that renders silly any idea that the report of the official investigation might not be published. Such decision can only funnel unnecessary insinuations.
One policy of the military profession hardly known to the public is fast, though admittedly safe, movement of personnel. In the process, like in other human endeavours, incidents may occur. For example, around 1987 or 1988, under the administration of former President Ibrahim Babangida, there was the national Independence anniversary to be celebrated in Abuja. A day in advance, we flew in a C-130 military aircraft. Today, on reflection, it might have been a suicide mission, but not in any way intended. We were all on board, President Babangida, General Sani Abacha, General Domkat Bali as well as their ADCs and CSOs, some other high-ranking military officers, not fewer than 10 Dodan Barracks media correspondents. Throughout the one-hour flight to Abuja, the top military officers maintained their comradrie with friendly discussions.
Quite unusually, for the duraton of the flight, Dodan Barracks correspondent maintained total silence. Out of respect for the senior military officers? Perhaps. That thought disappeared immediately after we landed in Abuja and one of them pulled me apart and thanked God for everybody landing safely. That was a most expensive tease by the reporter. I still repulsed the reporter by enlightening him that the pilots were some of the best in the Nigerian Air Force. Just like General Attahiru’s Air Force pilots, who were originally scheduled for Jaji airstrip in Kaduna could not land and headed for Kaduna civilian airport, which proved fatal and caused the death the army boss, General Attahiru, the provost marshal, army intelligence chief, their ADCs and CSOs, not forgetting everybody on the plane
If we had perished in that C-130 military plane, Nigerian history would have been stained with the mischief that it was a deliberate sabotage. The only caution soldiers take is that they would never jump in front of an on-coming train. Otherwise, they consider their next second or minute on earth as a bonus from God. Death does not scare them. Still, they would never commit suicide. But if death comes, so be it.
Military aircraft, especially C-130, continue to be in the service of the army al over the world. That was partly the background to the attempted mass movement of majors from Lagos to Kaduna for a course, which would have earned them promotion to the next rank. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed at Ejigbo, Lagos, less than 20 minutes after taking off. It was a field day for rumour-mongers, just as rumour-mongers are enjoying themselves now over the death of military officers on their way to the passing out parade of graduating cadets. Somehow, the joy of the rumour-mongers on the tragedy of the majors did not last long.
A Zambian army C-130 aircraft flew a national team of the country to a South African country for a continental elimination contest, after which the same plane, along with the same team and their officials, left for a West African country for another round of the soccer contest. Sadly, the Zambian officers and all the footballers as well as the team’s officials crashed halfway into Atlantic ocean. Nobody survived. Nobody blamed the Zambian government.
Then, after winning the election in 1992, former AmericanPresident Bill Clinton appointed a black American, Ron Brown, as secretary for agriculture. Mr. Brown was killed in a C-130 crash while on tour to another part of the United States.
Under Olusegun Obasanjo as elected President of Nigeria, 13 army generals died at Obudu in Cross River State in a plane crash while proceeding on a retreat.
That was Chelsea of 2012
If you thought the result of the match between favourites Manchester United and the eventual winners of Europa Cup, Villareal, was an unusual shock, then you don’t know what football is all about. Villareal won by 11 penalties while Manchester United managed 10 in a shoot-out to settle a 1-1 play draw.One side had to win and Villareal won.
Football is a competition and any of the two finalists who can pull a fast one can win. This does not mean tomorrow’s European Champions League taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, will produce the same excitement. The two finalists, Chelsea and Manchester City, are both English clubs and their respective journeys to tomorrow’s game are epic. Nobody ever gave them a chance, especially Chelsea. Indeed, erstwhile manager Frank Lampard had to bruise the dust to save the club from relegation.
Before then, any team could humiliate Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a taboo since the Jose Mourino days. New manager Tuchel quickly earned Chelsea a reputation, now the club is most feared by the top rivals. Yet, Chelsea may or has been miraculously saved from relegation. Furthermore, Chelsea has a history of being an underdog at this level of the competition. In 2008, Chelsea lost only in sudden-death penalty shoot-out to Manchester United.
The club’s luck as an underdog was against Germany’s Bayern Munich in 2012 and Chelsea was already roasted for a certain defeat except that the club painted Germany red with Bayern Munich’s blood all over the place, to win the trophy against all expectations. But, hold it.
Bayern Munich was never today’s Manchester City. More significantly, today’s Chelsea facing Man City tomorrow is nowhere near the Chelsea of 2012, which beatBayern Munich. Those were the days of almost everybody rated as world class: Goalkeeper Czech, Left back Ashley Cole. Centre half Frank Lampard. Mid-fielder David Louis, Didier Drogba. On the other hand, today’s Manchester City comprises men of stamina, tall and very sharp in shooting.
Somehow, whatever is the situation, a loyalist is ever abiding, especially when the colour is Blue. I am one of them, about the oldest, since 1967 when Tottenham Hotspurs beat Chelsea to win English FA Cup.