Nigeria aviation minister calls air crash 'act of God'

LAGOS Wed Oct 9, 2013 9:15am EDT

Related Topics

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria's aviation minister has caused outrage by calling air crashes inevitable acts of God, as she sought to deflect criticism of her record after the country's second deadly accident in 15 months.

Stella Oduah was speaking to journalists at the presidential villa on Monday, three days after sixteen people were killed in a small passenger plane that crashed shortly after take-off outside Lagos airport's domestic terminal.

In June last year, a Dana Air flight crashed into a Lagos apartment block, killing 163 people in the country's worst airline disaster in two decades.

An investigation has yet to reveal the cause.

"We do not pray for accidents but it is inevitable... We do everything to ensure that we do not have accidents, but it is an act of God," she said. "We do not speculate on the cause of accidents."

Oduah later qualified her comment, saying that everyone from baggage handlers to regulators, airlines and management shared responsibility for passenger safety and that a preliminary report into the latest crash should be out in a couple of weeks.

But Nigerian newspapers and Twitter exploded with angry responses. Former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode was quoted in Vanguard local daily as calling for her resignation.

The Punch newspaper quoted popular blogger Japheth Omojuwa as saying: "If God is in charge of safety in the aviation sector, we are then duplicating roles by paying a salary (to the minister)... When you start passing the buck to God, then the time has arrived to pass on your resignation letter."

Oduah's spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The belief that fatal accidents are acts of God, or of malevolent spirits, is common in Nigeria and many other African countries.

Air crashes are relatively frequent in Africa's second biggest economy, where a sophisticated financial sector and large professional class depend on flights, although safety improved a lot in the years just before the Dana crash.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (4)
gregbrew56 wrote:
Which god is it, Zeus, Loki, Yahweh, Krishna, Allah…? I need to know so I can admonish their adherents for not praying hard enough.

Oct 09, 2013 6:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
FriscoJohn wrote:
Taken from the theological teachings of Pat Robertson?

Oct 10, 2013 3:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
j77brooks wrote:
Plane accidents are an Act of God, caused by the sexual humiliations of the sex offender criminals who are cursed. “It was found that all the deaths in all the world were caused by the sins of the Whore of Babylon” the Bible (which is the Word of Truth) confirms.

Oct 10, 2013 3:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.