Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and 392 other passengers on Wednesday escaped what could have been a plane crash aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight in Lagos.
According to reports, the aircraft found it difficult to land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos upon arrival from Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, ET-901, had departed the Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa at 9:10 a.m. Ethiopian time (7 a.m. Nigerian time).
Narrating his experience yesterday, the former President said, ““I was on Ethiopian Airline. Rain just came down heavily. The pilot thought he could land. And he landed. He touched down. But I think he took a swift decision that he had to take off again.
“So he took off. If he did not, I think he probably would have overrun the runway. He then apologised and said he would try to land again. He tried again, and we landed safely. And we all clapped.”
The former Nigerian military and civilian President said while the incident lasted, he remained calm and read papers.
“While it all happened, I was reading my papers. One man, who was next to me, said, ‘Oga you no worry?’ I said, ‘Íf I worry, what will I do? If you are on a plane and you have a situation like this, why should you worry?’ I left everything in the hands of God.”
Speaking on the incident, the Duty Manager of the airline in Nigeria, Otori Jimoh Otan, said if the pilot had continued taxing down after landing on the third touchline, he would have overshot the runway.
“But this is an experienced pilot. He realised this immediately. Fortunately, the distance between when he realised the situation still permitted him to take off and renegotiate landing,” Otan said.
He added that the incident was not out of place, while confirming that the wind obscured the pilot’s vision. He also disclosed that most of the aircraft that flew out of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport had to fly against the midday heavy wind.
“These things happen. That is where the sophistication of the aircraft and experience of the cabin crew members come in.
“The aircraft is one of the best you can have around and we are fortunate to have pilots who know their onions,” he said.
Obasanjo had attended a Stakeholders Dialogue on Continental Trade and Strengthening Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Ethiopia. The programme ended on Tuesday.