Posted by From Bolaji Adebiyi in Abuja on
The mood at the Lake Alau Close, Maitama, Abuja house of Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corpo-ration (NRC), Alhaji Waziri Mohammed, feared dead in the ill-fated Bellview Aircraft that crashed Saturday night, moved from despair to hope, and back to despair yesterday.
The mood at the Lake Alau Close, Maitama, Abuja house of Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corpo-ration (NRC), Alhaji Waziri Mohammed, feared dead in the ill-fated Bellview Aircraft that crashed Saturday night, moved from despair to hope, and back to despair yesterday. As news filtered through in the morning that the plane that left Lagos around 8.00pm had disappeared, family and friends, including his wife Zainab, his cousin, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, and brother, Muftau, wore a grim look, fearing that he might have died.
But hope rose when the Chairman of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Malam Nasir El-Rufai, came into Mohammed's residence around 11am and briefed the family that the aircraft had been reportedly traced to Kishi in Oyo State. He said the state Governor, Rashidi Ladoja, had called to tell him that he had dispatched his deputy and four commissioners to Kishi to ascertain the situation of things. Promising to return with more information in an hour, El-Rufai, who is also a minister in The Presidency, and a close friend of Mohammed, left the premises leaving behind a restive crowd of friends that had grown into scores of people angry about the slow pace of the search for the ill-fated plane.
Around 12noon, a shout of God is Great burst through from the inner rooms of the massive house following purported news report on television that the plane had been found and that all the passengers and crew on board had survived. Hugging and hand pumping by family members and friends followed as excitement filled the air and the gloom that had enveloped the premises disappeared. So excited was his cousin, Ibrahim-Imam that he gave one of his sons, called Ambassador, a bundle of fifty naira notes, and left the premises apparently to go and share the joy of the hope-raising news with other friends. Some of the friends even claimed that they had established contacts with some of the survivors who said that Mohammed was alive.
That encouraged them to work the phones in an attempt to establish contact with him.
But that hope paled in to despair as hours rolled by and no one could establish contact with him. By 2.00pm when El-Rufai came back with a long face, it became clearer that Mohammed might have died. By 3.00pm when Ibrahim-Imam returned with the report that the plane actually crashed at a village near Ifo in Ogun State, putting to rest earlier claims, it became clear that a tragedy had befallen them. It was African Independent Television report at about 3.30pm that showed the scene of the crashed plane that finally brought home to them the tragedy that had been hidden away from them all night, and for most of the day. What followed was wailing by men and women who said Mohammed was too good to die.
At Mohammed's house were many dignitaries, who were too shocked to talk. They include Senator Sanusi Dagash, former Ministers Abba Gana, Adamu Ciroma, and Tony Anenih, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa and Governor Danjuma Goje of Gombe State.