Should Airpeace apologize to the Emir of Kano for discomfort of missing a second local flight from their international journey? A spokesperson for the Kano Emirate appears bent on instigating a discord between Kano people and the national airline.

There is a need to douse the smoldering fire before this turns into an ethnoreligious conflagration that consumes the airline. In our country, many factors ruin a business outside what is commonly understood as failure causes. On this one, we only have to look at claims that the combatants are pushing into the public sphere. They bespeak unwise courses of action by both parties.

Pugnacious Messenger

It’s difficult to understand why the Emir’s spokesperson wanted a plane about to take off to turn back. And we are talking about a commercial airliner, not a hired or owned private jet. And it is also difficult to understand why the spokesperson wants to drag the two principals into the matter. 

The fact, however, is that the Emir’s entourage boarded an Airpeace flight from Banjul, final destination Kano. But it was not a connecting flight from Lagos to Kano. Howbeit, it’s also easy to see what upsets the Emir. Airpeace is the carrier for both the Banjul – Lagos and Lagos – Kano flights. Which means that if the airline kept to schedule from Banjul, there wouldn’t have been any cause for worry. In other words, the international passengers expected the airline to keep to its published schedule which it failed to do. And this affected the second leg of the journey. 

Clearly, Airpeace is to blame for not keeping to its schedule. So what does this say about the justification that it has put up?

Airpeace did not contest that it came later in the day into Lagos from Banjul than it originally scheduled. It also didn’t contest that the spokesperson made effors to avert undue delay of his principal in Lagos. Instead, it focused on two things without ever mentioning its delayed flight from Banjul. One was the consideration for other passengers on the plane about to take off. The other we have mentioned is that the Lagos to Kano flight was not a connecting flight.

Airpeace is not without blame

Most people who have commented on the matter appear to take the airline’s side. I daresay this is not out of a sense of empathy for the Emir. Every customer of the airline is a victim of its habitual lateness. So ordinarily, people should have been empathetic to the challenges of the Emir. The truculent messages and threats from the Kano spokesperson accounts for why public opinion shifted against the Emir. A secondary reason is the airline’s eagerness to publicise its operational loopholes. Yet, some of these loopholes were deliberately created to justify future actions such as this. And it freely deployed them to win the moral battle.

Clearly Airpeace is trying to win a war that is yet to begin. 

Why so? Look at the two statements from the Airline, particularly the second statement. Airpeace emphasizes that Lagos-Kano was an independent local flight to avoid responsibility. If the Lagos-Kano route was not a connecting flight, why was this so? Evidently, the Emir had no business stepping out of the airport in Lagos, rather than Kano. I checked the website of Airpeace. On its West African route (Accra, Banjul, Dakar, Freetown) all Airpeace flights terminate in Lagos. Yet, the airline accepts international passengers from Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Asaba. It does not make sense. Why should anyone from Enugu for instance, leave Ethiopian Airlines and go to Lagos to board Airpeace? Especially when they know that Airpeace will still leave them in Lagos on their return?

But it makes sense for the airline, as several passengers have testified on social media. According to them, Airpeace does not terminate international flights at local airports in Nigeria because of its habitual lateness. Consequently, it dumps international passengers from the West African routes into Lagos. Even at the dead of night passengers are abandoned in Lagos to fend for themselves. They suffer the inconvenience and costs of finding accommodation. They overcome security challenges. And they return the following day to board another Airpeace local flight to their final destination. 

Cost considerations

Clearly, the airline is trying to avoid associated costs that arise from its tardiness. In the case of the Emir, the airline would been forced to make expenses if it was a connecting flight. They would have put the Emire and his people on another flight. Or paid for their hotels and lunch before their evening flight. So should Airpeace Apologize to Emir?

One can therefore understand the frustrations of the Kano Emir. Everyone knows that this is what Airpeace does to avoid liability for its unstable scheduling and late flights. There is also a second silly defense that Airpeace put up. The airline offered to fly the Emir to Abuja and put him on a Kano flight at no cost. What a silly thing to say. Airlines, including Airpeace, habitually combine Lagos – Abuja flights with other flights terminating at Maiduguri, Kano, Gombe, Yola and so forth. Do they charge the passengers going beyond Abuja double fare? There is no free ride in the equation if the Emir paid for a Lagos-Kano flight.

This is why I said that Airpeace is fighting a battle that is yet to begin. I would have used a stronger word than “weak” to describe both justifications.

Should Airpeace Apologize to Emir? The chairman of Airpeace has repeatedly stated that the airline business is not profitable in Nigeria. He also explained that Airpeace covers unprofitable northern routes because of the interest and support of concerned state governments. On this basis, Airpeace should carefully weigh the cost-benefits of waging a battle with an influetial passenger from that region. 

Should Airpeace Apologize to Emir? I have nothing more to say.

Ukraine and the Nigerian Shame

Playing underneath the crisis in Ukraine are a number of narratives that are familiar. America’s East-West rivalry aka Cold War. Russia’s return to imperialism. International border demarcations. Minority rights. Human rights. I add another: racism.

My concerns are human rights enforcement and the racism that has reared an ugly head.

The crisis in Ukraine once again exposes Nigeria’s lack of planning. We show our total disdain for the Nigerians overseas even in countries where we maintain diplomatic presence. There are over 4,000 Nigerian youths that flocked into Ukraine in search of education and better life. They hole up in various shelters and borders, wondering what becomes of them as big Russian tanks roll in.

Enugu Metro Editorial

The Nigerian Embassy in Kiev gives a poor image to our country. Embassy officials give the impression that Nigerian learnt nothing from the Liberian tragedy of over three decades ago. In that conflict, Nigerians in Liberia desperately searched for how to get out of a growing internal conflict. The Embassy of Nigeria in Liberia became a refuge for those who could dash in. Fortunately, many who could not managed to find escape routes. The Embassy provided no refuge as the Charles Taylor-led rebels soon surrounded and captured as many Nigerians as they could. From all accounts, Taylor made a sport of bringing out our nationals to slaughter every morning.

Contingency Plan

Three decades down the line, we have repeated the Liberian Mistake. There appears to be no contingency plan on how to save our people in conflict situations. When other countries were busy flying their nationals out of Ukraine, we were busy sending useless messages. And when the Russians moved in, we essentially told our people that they were on their own.

One of the good pieces of advice we gave to the students was to head to the Polish border. And that is because Nigerians in Poland threw the lifeline first. They asked their colleagues to head to the border where they will be welcomed and sheltered until the war abated. But the Embassy did not make any arrangements on how people were to get to the borders. Which is where racism comes in. The Ukranians themselves ensured that Nigerians and blacks did not board trains taking people to safety. And border police refused entry to Nigerians and blacks who wanted to gain access to Poland.

How did some of us think that an international crisis management plan exists in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

Should Airpeace Apologize to the Emir