Monday, October 24, 2005

Where is the Truth?

Nigeria - where the truth is hard to find.
The confusion surrounding the weekend place crash in Nigeria - when officials at first confidently said that many people had survived, before later back-tracking - shows how difficult it is to get accurate information in Africa's most populous country, writes the BBC's former Nigeria correspondent Anna Borzello.
Getting accurate information is notoriously difficult in Nigeria. It may seem astonishing to anyone who hasn't visited Nigeria that a plane on a main commercial route can disappear, and for nearly a day no-one knows where it has gone. How can an aircraft come down in a crowded part of the country without news of the crash spreading to the cities within half an hour? How can officials confidently tell reporters there are survivors, when everyone is dead? Reading the report of the crash on the BBC News website, all the frustration I used to feel trying to get to the bottom of stories in Nigeria came flooding back.
I was reminded of the time, about a year ago, when onlookers crowded onto a Lagos beach, convinced a plane had just plunged into the water killing all on board. There were eye-witnesses, the story ran on CNN, and a police helicopter whirred overhead. But the aviation authority said it had no record of a flight plan, and the wreckage was never found.
After a few days, the story was simply forgotten.

BBC News Report by Anna Borzello.


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