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Sad and bitter Sunday for Nigeria

The two events: a morning suicide bomb attack on worshippers at a church in Bauchi State, in North Eastern Nigeria, that left at least e

Last modified: 4 Jun 2012 04:03
President Goodluck Jonathan declares three days of mourning [Reuters]

The two events: a morning suicide bomb attack on worshippers at a church in Bauchi State, in North Eastern Nigeria, that left at least eight people killed, and a deadly afternoon passenger aircraft crash in Lagos, which killed all on board and an unknown number on the ground, according to emergency rescue sources, have left people in shock and mourning.

President Goodluck Jonathan has declared three days of national mourning – and that flags be drawn at half-mast in recognition of the air disaster.

Earlier in the day he addressed the nation on the church attack asking Nigerians to fully support the country’s security services in the fight against terrorism, saying "no patriotic Nigerian should stand aloof while enemies of the nation wage a wicked war against innocent citizens".

At the time of writing, the exact causes of the air crash were still not known, neither had any group claimed responsibility for the Bauchi church attack (though it does point to the work of the Boko Haram sect, who wants a strict form of Islamic law instituted across Nigeria).

The air disaster will shine a light on aviation standards here.

Contrary to popular belief, Nigeria has greatly cleaned up its safety record following deadly domestic aviation disasters in 2005 and 2006 in which hundreds died.

Two Nigerian operated airlines were recently granted licenses to fly directly to the United States and UK. Its aviation industry is considered to be one of the fastest growing and most competitive, with international carriers keen to get a piece of the Nigerian market.

So, could the cause have been a safety issue? Was the accident caused by pilot error, bad weather conditions, technical problems, or foul play? For now Nigerians can only speculate and will only speculate, until at least there's an official response.

A full and transparent investigation by Nigeria's aviation authority into what happened is the only thing that may restore what public confidence on aviation safety may have been lost in the disaster.

Domestic carriers are likely to tighten safety and security procedures further over the next few days until what happened is made clear.

But, if any individual or organisation is found wanted, Nigerians are hoping they will be held accountable.

Though regretful, the security services say they prevented a far more deadly attack at the church in Bauchi, as they were able to stop the suicide bomber from ramming directly into the church and potentially killing many more.

The next few days will give Nigerians a chance not only to mourn, but to reflect.

Follow Yvonne Ndege on Twitter: @YvonneNdege