Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Afro Beat Remembers

Today marks the 9th Year of "Democracy" in Nigeria and a full year of the Yar'Adua administration. Thanks to encouragement from bloggers like Nigerian Curiosity, constantly thinking of creative ways to unite Nigerian (African) bloggers on common issues that make us tick, I'm dedicating this post to the memory of the initial advent of democracy (independence) and my hope for Nigeria in the next 50 years.

PART 1: Reflections of a Tired yet Optimistic Mother on the BUILDING of Nigeria - Independence.
(This part was cut abruptly short as my mother typed away on her email and NEPA struck before she could save the later part of this apt! Thanks Mum!)


My memory of 1st October 1960 is an easily recalled part of my memory.

Days leading to it were like expectations of a great party. I was 7 years old and in primary 3. There was clearing up of the school grounds and rehearsals for the ‘march’. We were to be on our best behaviour and wear our best uniforms for the Independence Day celebrations.

At home, at my mother’s beer parlour where men gathered most evenings, there were loud arguments about the handing over of government. Not that I understood the discussions but their loudness and laughter, (especially as the men got more alcohol in their systems) signaled the coming of a great event. I thought independence would be one long celebration.

We lived in a small village divided in two by the Ogun River in the old Western state . It was a small village and while the men on one side were mostly farmers, those on the other side were fishermen. I did not know much about the villagers other than that some of their children were my school mates. There was however government presence in the village- the Boys’ approved School (a reformatory) of which my father was the Principal during this period. So there was also a lot of preparations as the boys prepared for the “march past” for the celebrations and visitors to the school which had a white lady as head visitor.

On that day, all pupils received branded cups, plates and the green white green flag which to us was the symbol of our independence. The flag was hoisted that day and we religiously sang to it everyday from then on. It was usual to see it proudly displayed in peoples’ parlours. There was feasting at school, at the town hall and everywhere.

In those early days, we marched round the village once a week to spread the message of free education for all by Awolowo and encourage the villagers to allow their children come to school before they joined them on the farms in the afternoon.

I bet the current state of the nation is a nightmare for the men and women of the 60s. At Independence they had a dream of a great Nigeria: now that is a dream deferred.
If we take a cue from the developments in Lagos State in the past year. I believe the good old days will return but at a price...ARE WE SET TO PAY?


Part 2: Hope for the Future

In addition to a Nigeria with all the "basics" of a developed country (civil peace, quality education, functional healthcare system, social security, state-of-the-art infrastructure, environment that spurs entrepreneurship and innovation), my hope for Nigeria in 2058 is for a Nigeria that celebrates its internal differences but stands united in the pursuit of a Nigerian dream - be it "Pursuit of Happiness", "Liberty & Justice for All", "Equality & Fraternity". Beyond the semantics, today, as a nation, we need something to inspire us, something (a sort of call to arms/ action) that can rally Nigerians from around the world, from the grassroots up, to think beyond themselves and begin the task of actually RENOVATING this nation.

What is that common thing that makes us tick/ jump into action? I would say Injustice Against the Helpless, but we as a people have become jaded by our leaders' "misactions" in that department, I'm not too sure that still holds.

Hope for our Children's Future? Traditionally, Africans worked to enable their children's prosperity, so as to ensure theirs in old age. And for those who weren't wealthy in monetary terms, they would work hard to bequeath an honourable name their children could at least be proud of. Though this varies from ethnic group to ethnic group, I believe that this is still something that most Africans still value, though the "honourable name" part has been supplanted by the quest for material wealth - a new sort of "Get rich or die trying" mentality reigns today.

True, with the growing wave of emmigration from Nigeria, many of our children will have some place else to call home, but will it ever really be 100% their true home? Perhaps. However, they deserve more. They deserve a choice. A choice to call Nigeria home. If for the sake of our children alone, Nigerians can come together to begin to work towards RENOVATING our nation, together with our leaders, then I think we stand a chance. If not, tAB will be commemmorating Democracy Day in 2058 with a similar post, as though none of this ever really was.

What's your hope/vision for Nigeria in 2058? What legacy do you want Nigeria to be for your children? Happy Democracy Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Spring of Hope

Meant to do this 2 weeks ago but better late than never! In an attempt to learn more about our Nigerian heroes, we promised sometime last year to profile a local hero as often as we could. Another one of THOSE resolutions, but we shan't go there...

For as long as I can remember, Abraham Adesanya has always been one of those names uttered with the deepest respect and admiration among many Nigerians. From my early days at family gatherings, whenever Nigerian politics (and inevitably, NADECO - for my grandfather was a close friend of Awolowo's) came up, Adesanya's tiredless work in the pro-democracy struggle would surface somewhere in the discussion. I never knew much about the man to be honest, who he was and what his personal accomplishments were (besides being a major force of NADECO (national democratic coalition)).

This article tries to summarize Adesanya's life in a page, but i can only imagine the hundreds of pages his biography could fill. With the likes of Pa Onasanya, Pa Rewane, Pa Dawodu (Nigerians and their "Pa's"), Chief Ige having crossed over to the other side, it feels like the end of an era, one that i was never really a part of but one I grew up in - an era of frustration yet immense hope for this so-called DEMOCRACY that everyone went on about.
["Nigeria will never be at peace without democracy", i used to hear.]

"It was the It was a time when we had principles... there was a "Nigerian Dream" - to live FREELY under a civilian government elected BY the people, FOR the people; to live to see your children have access to better opportunities than you; to pass on a good name to your children, that they could be PROUD of. I remember things were hard then, not just from an economic stance(Remember good old SAP days?), but also from a human rights point of view. But yet, there is still a sense of nostalgia when i think back to those days. May Nigerians once more (one day) feel that hunger/thirst for something more than the individual good.

As Children's Day approaches next week, think of something you can do for a child in your community. Volunteer to read at a children's hospital (Even though most countries, might not celebrate it (e.g. the US!), make a note to mark it for at least ONE child.


Pa Abraham Adesanya (1922-2008) -

Senator Abraham Aderibigbe Adesanya who died the other day at the age of 85 years was truly remarkable. As an ethnic leader, he vigorously pursued, promoted and, to a recognizable degree, represented the collective yearnings and idiosyncrasies of his people - the Yoruba.

And as a nationalist, he was at the forefront of his country's quest for democracy. The latter meant, to a large extent, direct confrontation with the military which had become Nigeria's major impediment to representative governance.

For Senator Adesanya, commitment to democratic practice, justice and fairness was non-negotiable. He chose the platform upon which to nurture and watch those principles grow when he studied law at the Holborn College of Law in London and graduated in 1960. And when he returned to the country soon afterwards, in addition to legal practice, he joined the progressive brand of politics, symbolised at the time by the likes of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. During the Second Republic, he was elected into the Senate on the ticket of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and, until that dispensation was sacked in December 1983, served as the Senate Minority Leader.

In striking ways, the period that followed brought out the best in Pa Adesanya. The General Ibrahim Babangida era ended hurriedly and ushered the country into one of its most traumatic periods. The agitation for the actualisation of the presidential mandate given to the late Chief Moshood Abiola via the June 12, 1993 election but which was annulled led to the realignment of forces, largely under the umbrella of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). Up to the point that democracy was restored in May 1999, the organisation was vehement and combative in the condemnation of the existing political leadership.

As, first the deputy chairman of NADECO under late Chief Adekunle Ajasin and, at Ajasin's demise, its chairman, Adesanya was in the middle of the struggle with all its precariousness. In January 1997 during the government of the late General Sani Abacha, a killer squad sprayed his car with bullets. But the brave man from Ijebu Igbo in Ogun State was unstoppable. Instead of fear, that incident further instilled in him fresh courage and a renewed resolve to fight against the forces of repression and evil.

In 1998, Adesanya was made the leader of Afenifere and, by implication, the Yoruba - in the footsteps of Awolowo and Ajasin. From that point to 2004 when he was struck with the ailment that stayed on till his death, he remained the rallying point of the socio-cultural and political life of the Yoruba. But he was more than an ethnic champion. He used his position to demand and promote the virtues of minority rights, equality, federalism and nationalism. It was his conviction about the supremacy of democratic doctrines that partly led to the formation of The Patriots - a group which seeks to defend the Fourth Republic - in conjunction with other patriotic, respected Nigerians.

So, the death of Pa Adesanya is not only a loss to the South-West but also the entire country. His tenacity and sense of purpose will surely be missed by a nation still in dire need of focused leadership.

The greatest tribute the Yoruba can pay to one of its illustrous leaders, therefore, is to mend the fences that had started cracking, notably at Adesanya's incapacitation four years ago. The various factions that now contest for the soul of the Yoruba should come together, iron out their differences and work for the unity of the region and the nation as a whole.

No doubt, Pa Adesanya also deserves the respect of the rest of the country. His attributes of humility, modesty and forthrightness should be emulated by today's leaders, for the nation to gravitate more towards national cohesion and prosperity.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. "

- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


After a somewhat long silence, Yar'Adua speaks! Unfortunately, it wasn't to a local newspaper, but to the Financial Times of LONDON! Hopefully, a local 1-year anniversary interview will be granted to the Nigerian media so that those who can't get access to this prestigious London daily can hear what Baba Rule of Law has to say on his first year as President. Nonetheless, the FT interview touches on the issues on the mind of foreign investors and some of the Nigerian people's concerns. He seems to acknowledge that he really hasn't done anything this year besides preserve the rule of law in Aso Rock (if only this would extend to the police force country-wide, we would all shut up about his baba go slow-ness). He does however claim that Nigerians will reap the benefits of his inactivity in the 2nd year of his administration. About his frequent health visits to Germany, the President unashamedly admits:

I am not a super-human being, I don't know one yet, but certainly I'm not one. I am a normal human being who can fall sick, who can recover, who can die, who can have feelings, who can be angered, who can laugh…

FT: And who is fit enough to be president?

YAR'ADUA: Yes, and who is fit enough to be president, and who can have headaches, and can have fever. You see…all my medical records are in Germany, and I have been going to Germany since 1986, and I do my check-ups in Germany every year. In fact sometimes every six months, and this has been going since 1986…Now the fact that I'm president today, doesn't mean that when I feel there's something that I think is wrong and needs to checked I shouldn't go to my doctors, where all my records for the past 22 years are there. It is the most practical things to do…They know the background of everything about me medically.

Looking ahead,

FT: What else do you think we're going to see in terms of economic reforms going forward into your second year? What's next on your list of priorities?
YAR'ADUA: Power. We are working out, I have said we will declare a national emergency in the power sector, which we are working out the programmes to do that. The restructuring of NNPC, which is aimed at making NNPC a national oil company that will go out and compete with another oil companies like IOCs, use its assets to access funds from the capital market, it is going to be quite a major shift in policy and restructuring. This will mean that the national budget will be freed from the joint venture cash calls, which will make funds available to put into security, which is one of our key agendas, into providing adequate security, maintenance of law and order, education and health. The other thing that we are doing is ensuring that we bring in the private sector to invest in infrastructure. We are working out the regulatory framework so that major infrastructure, private sector can come in and provide infrastructure, railways, waterways, take over the running of airports, sea ports, major trunk roads, so that they provide services, they charge for these services, and that will relieve government from heavy investment.

FT: When do you think we will see these regulations?
YAR'ADUA: They are almost completed. Since we came we have been working on hem. And I think we are almost finished now. Next year will be really a very, very interesting year for this country, very interesting.

FT: It's interesting you say that. A lot of Nigerians I speak to say you have been very slow in your reform programme? What do you say when you hear Nigerians saying that you are moving slowly?

YAR'ADUA: I smile, because I know, I have been a governor for eight years, I have also had some challenges to sort out, some problems. Because I know the quality of what you can achieve depends on how you plan a programme. You cannot make major achievements by just trying to rush things. The quality of your planning, the quality of your programmes, determine the nature of their achievements…What we have to learn to know is that you cannot achieve anything without planning, and planning is a long-term process. That is why I am saying that we need to produce a national plan to the year 2020.

To be fair, I've spent most of my life hearing Nigerians complain about one of the root causes of Nigeria's infrastructure is LACK OF PLANNING. So shouldn't we be overjoyed that we finally have a President who's all about due process and planning? With the President's new 12-month reform plan (Which I trust he will be publishing soon), we shall finally have some milestones by which to judge his (in)actions. I hate to say it, but in this case (moreso than usual), ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights

Thanks for encouraging us to get on this, Solo!

Today the BA boycott begins! Once again, just a reminder that KLM and Lufthansa have waived the schengen transit visa requirement for passengers who have a valid visa for their final destination. Vote with your feet, wallet, mouths and whatever else you've got. Vote whichever way you want, but stand for something!

I can't call what the outcome of this boycott against BA will be, but even if a handful of Nigerians come together and actively take a stance against the illtreatment of our compatriots, then we would have achieved something.

But today, as bloggers around the world focus on Human Rights Issues, I would like to call on those passionate individuals who have answered this "call to arms" to put things in perspective. As we rally against illtreatment of paying BA customers and Nigerian deportees wherever, let us remember to rally with our brothers and sisters not too far away in Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe for starters. As we have screamed "foul" from the top of our lungs against "Brutish Airways", let us (ME, for starters) replenish our voice boxes to scream "NO WAY" to Mugabe's unfair call for a presidential run-off vote, "NOT ON OUR WATCH" to the humanitarian crises in Somalia and in the Sudan (particularly, Darfur), to name a few. Myanmar and China will get the airtime they deserve, but these injustices won't.

Let us remember to save some air in our lungs for those living in the Niger Delta. When do we "boycott" Shell, Mobil and Chevron? When ONE person is poisoned by toxic waste from oil company operations? Well, in that case, the boycott should have begun decades ago.

Oh, and if nothing but a short breath is saved for the "Child witches" in Akwa-Ibom, that would still make a difference.

As Nigerians test their ability to "unite against mistreatment", let's start to think of ways we can unite against murder, environmental racism, genocide, and civil war and child trafficking. Macroissues, way bigger than you and me. But we are THE largest black population in the world, so I'd say we have more than a critical mass. What's missing is the will and the "how". And I sure as heaven don't have the answers. But for today, I'll start by telling ONE MORE person about JUST ONE of these issues, and learning ONE MORE thing about a human rights violation occuring today and how JUST ONE PERSON out there CAN make a difference.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Before we boycott BA...

This write-up by Tolu Ogunlesi shares a different perspective on the Nigerian defence mechanism that has been set up as a result of the BA incident/call for boycott. 'Tis rather long but i think Tolu's last paragraph sums up his point:

"I do not attempt to minimize the import and the gravity of the punishment and embarrassment meted out to Mr. Omotade. Nothing will ever justify that. I sympathise with him. BA should apologise, genuinely, and overhaul their crisis management response. But we (Nigerians) should also step back and be at least a bit more dispassionate in our evaluation. The ranting and the calls for boycott will not do us any good. A country without its own international airline has no business making the kind of noise we are currently making, ordering the world to "respect" us. We should instead keep our mouths sealed and wallow in our collective shame of airline-lessness. And of course, we should enroll in International Diplomacy 101 – and learn to more often than not, temper our abrasive quest for justice with some measure of reason. It’s the season of the rule of law, after all."

A bold perspective, but if everyone sat and waited for the utopian Nigeria (where we have our choice of quality local airlines) before they opened their mouth to scream "foul", then I can only imagine where we'd be...we'd be worse than Baba Rule of Law - a nation of 200 million full/fool vessels (too full to make a sound!)


In other news, yours truly spent almost an hour of paid time today trying to circumvent the BA-monster. I thought it was punishment for all my talk and talk against the corporation - the cheapest NYC-LONDON flight i could find was BA (almost $200 cheaper than Virgin, and this is a work-related flight so i couldn't but choose the cheapest "name" option (Air India was really the cheapest but hmm...)I was about to put up a poll and ask what to do, when lo and behold, an angel appeared by the name of Delta Airlines, a tad bit cheaper than BA though I've never flown them internationally, (but if their domestic flights are anything to go by, I'm in for the longest 7 hours of my life). Well, all's well that starts well.

In other OTHER news, Lufthansa and KLM have waived the Schengen Visa requirements for Nigerian passengers with final destination visas...The heat is on.

Before we boycott BA - by Tolu Ogunlesi

I should start by saying I am not a spokesperson for British Airways. And this is not a press release on their behalf. What I am is a Nigerian, asking questions that I think we should all ask ourselves before we, in our collective rage, consign the poor airline to the (dust)bin of boycott.

The story has been repeated time without number, so the details are clear to most of us. A Nigerian citizen, concerned about the manner in which another Nigerian citizen was being deported, voiced his displeasure to the policemen carrying out the deportation, and ended up being bundled out of the plane. Other Nigerians on the flight protested vehemently, things got unruly [BA claims its crew was "subjected to both verbal abuse and physical assault"], and 133 passengers were ejected by police from that flight. 64 were allowed to re-board before take-off, while the others were later put on other plane[s]. The man at the centre of the protest, was arrested, detained for hours, had his money and luggage confiscated, and was banned from flying BA.

This is where I have to ask my first question. Was the deportee actually maltreated by the British police officers or not? None of the accounts or newspaper reports I have read have implied in any way that the unnamed deportee was maltreated in the deportation process.

The only pointer to that fact, or the only plank upon which we may nail such an allegation is the “I go die o” that the man was said to have been screaming repeatedly as he was being put onto the plane. But I want to ask, is the screaming of “I go die” sufficient proof upon which to come to a conclusion of maltreatment? Does anyone honestly believe that a man (or woman) being deported will sit quietly, and smile through the entire repatriation process? Certainly not. Deportation is to be instinctively resisted, because of what it signifies: The suddenness, the shame, the blacklisting. So the fact that a man being deported is screaming that he will die is not proof that he is anywhere near death.

At this point, let’s listen to the account of the man at the centre of it all, Ayodeji Omotade: “I pleaded with the officers not to kill him and my exact words were ‘please don’t kill him.’ The British Airways staff said the officers were doing their jobs and that nothing was going to happen. The noise became louder and other passengers started getting concerned and were complaining especially about their safety.”

This is where I ask my second question. Are the British police/immigration authorities STUPID (emphasis mine) enough to murder a Nigerian on a plane to Lagos, in full view of tens of Nigerians. If they wanted to kill him wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to have done so before boarding the plane.

Why am I demonstrating this brand of skepticism? A number of people must have read the letter sent to Dele Momodu (and published in the This Day newspaper of Sunday, May 11, 2008) by Olu Ayodeji, a Nigerian who works as a Cabin Services Director with the British Airways in London. I read it and immediately came to the conclusion that Nigerians should pause and do a bit of soul-searching before hanging British Airways (after all we’ve already given the dog a bad name).

And it is Mr. Ayodeji’s article that has emboldened me to share my own perspective on the matter. Mr. Ayodeji is quick to point out that he is not writing as an official spokesperson for the airline, and even the tone of his voice makes it quite evident that this is someone who just wants to set forth his thoughts, and hopefully enable the watching world to get a more balanced view of events. In the last few weeks much of what we have heard has been muddled up in the noise of Nigerian protest – mostly accusations of racism targeted at the “white establishment” that is British Airways.

I don’t know how this may sound, and it will probably not earn me any cheers from this side of the divide, but I can’t shake off the feeling that, instead of stepping back to weigh the issues at hand, Nigerians have resorted to a defence mechanism whose deployment we have perfected over the years: namely, to wield the “Identity” Card. Don’t we all know that, by Nigerian standards, corrupt politicians are not tried or jailed because they have stolen money, but because they are from a certain ethnic group? This is the same card we have played in this case: BA has maltreated us because we are Nigerians - and we MUST fight back. (At this point though I must quickly add a caveat: that none of this is to in any way minimize the reality or extent of racism in high and low places.)

Let’s hear what Mr. Ayodeji (who speaks as someone who has “witnessed at close quarters the attitude of fellow Nigerians on BA flights”) has to say: “When I first joined BA, I used to stand up to my colleagues, at the risk of losing my job, to defend fellow Nigerians' integrity. Sadly, over the years, I've since abandoned that attitude having witnessed and experienced firsthand the embarrassing attitude of Nigerians.” He gives examples; examples which many of us as Nigerians, if we were honest enough to admit to ourselves, would admit are more often the rule than the exception. He speaks of a “generation of Nigerians who see every shortcoming on the part of BA as a basis for confrontation, verbal or physical assault,” and goes on to give examples, which I’m sure every Nigerian traveler will easily identify with.

We don’t need psychologists to officially diagnose us as brash people. Yes, we are the happiest people on earth, and we have learned to match every ounce of happiness with two ounces of brashness. It is a collective brashness, a loudness and argumentativeness that must intimidate other nationalities when they encounter us. Next time you fly international, watch out for how we treat cabin crew. Watch how we flaunt our sense of entitlement – for airline food and wine. How we rush onto planes whose seats are numbered because our “hand-luggage” is “arm-and-leg” luggage that needs infinite space in the overhead compartments.

But the most interesting part of it all is this: what I call the Grand Irony: Everyday Nigerian airlines treat Nigerians worse than animals – overbook flights and reduce boarding to a Darwinian-cum-100m-dash; cancel flights and divert planes to other routes with reckless abandon; hoard tickets and hand over sales to touts; hike prices in a way that would make air travel the envy of Sotheby's. Time after time our honourable politicians shut down the airspace so their executive and chartered flights can land undisturbed; our Big Men delay flights (even international ones) for hours in order not to be late for their shopping binges; and our runways admit cows to graze merrily and watch planes land up close and personal.

All of these happen, and all we do is whimper, perhaps grumble, and life goes on. We dey kampe! Nothing dey happen! No shaking! How I wish that (we)Nigerians were as vocal in our protestations against the inhuman treatments meted out to us by domestic airlines, as we now are against BA. A few years ago an entire plane-load of Nigerian citizens was consumed by flames while a crowd (parents, relatives, and friends) watched, helpless, because an airport had insufficient fire-fighting capability. And life went on. It didn’t occur to us to boycott our airports until basic facilities were put in place.

But when an international airline, concerned about the commotion aboard a flight that was their responsibility, chooses to take steps they deem necessary to safeguard the flight, before you can say “control tower”, an entire nation has risen and whipped out the race card. We have done it the way we have learnt to do it – the “Do You Know Who I Am”? Way. Pause and watch next time two cars collide near you in a traffic jam, or when someone jumps a queue in a bank and tempers flare; and count the number of “Do You Know Who I am?” that you will hear fired from angry lips.

It is our nature. We will continue to spurn the “organized” route, because things work faster that way – at least within our country. The Rule of Gra-gra makes things happen, and makes them happen fast. But we fail to learn that things may not always work that way outside our borders.

Again I say it, I do not attempt to minimize the import and the gravity of the punishment and embarrassment meted out to Mr. Omotade. Nothing will ever justify that. I sympathise with him.....(See excerpt above)
Tolu Ogunlesi is a short fiction writer, journalist, poet, and juggles all this with a day job! Do check out his blog.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I agree that it's almost always fruitless to collectively act without an end in mind (in the case of a BA boycott - apology/explanation from BA? better treatment by BA? more flight options on the Lagos-London route?) and outcomes to measure success (what constitutes better treatment and just HOW MUCH is better - no more kicking people off flights? no insectiside spraying?)

I also agree that sometimes Nigerians aren't the best-behaved passengers out there, but I have seen poorly-behaved passengers of various nationalities on many a flight, and so, as an airline/ airhost/ customer-facing employee of an airline, it would be integral not to act on generalizations about an entire nationality (wouldn't be easy), in the name of "customer service". Now, in the name of customer safety, as BA has belatedly pointed out, their decision to kick the 133 passengers of the plane was done in consultation with the UK police and was for the safety of the aircrew and other passengers (we had been made aware of the latter from the start).

Now that the exercise in frustration and venting has been carried out, as Naapali and Atutu have pointed out, it's time for a due diligence on the system and on ourselves. For those who consider themselves the best-behaved passengers out there (cough*yours truly*cough) and believe that BA and other foreign "service delivery" companies consistently overstep the line in their disregard/disrepect for your patronage/naira, you(we) know what you(we) need to do. Same goes for those who are tired and frustrated by the way they are treated by the institutions that govern us, and the way we treat (and mistreat) ourselves.


British Airways, yesterday, rationalised the offloading of Nigerian passengers on board BA75 flight to Lagos last month.

It said the decision was taken in consultation with the United Kingdom Police in order to ensure safety of the said aircraft and passengers.

In a statement made available to THISDAY, the airline said the "disruption" on board the aircraft required the presence of policemen to contain the situation which it said was regretable.

"We regret the upset that the events onboard the BA75 to Lagos on 27th March have caused in Nigeria. We have made it clear that the decision to offload passengers was made in consultation with and on the advice of the UK police, and the sole aim of this decision was to ensure the safety of our passengers, aircraft and crew.

"Offloading passengers is not a decision that is taken lightly and is a rare occurrence. However the disturbance on board the BA75 service to Lagos on Thursday 27th March was a very serious incident which required the presence of 20 uniformed police officers to regain control of the situation" the statement said.

It further noted that "Given the level of disruption on board the plane as it was preparing to depart, it was not possible to pinpoint which passengers were the most involved. In addition our crew were subjected to both verbal abuse and physical assault which, in the confined space of an aircraft, can be a particularly serious issue. Hence the police decided, with the agreement of the Captain, that it would be unwise to let all the passengers travel on the aircraft as their behaviour could pose a safety risk".

The statement said that "Of the 133 passengers offloaded following the disturbance 64 re-boarded the flight before take-off. Those offloaded were of various nationalities including British & American passengers. There was also a mix of nationalities among those who flew including Nigerian passengers".

On the arrest of one of the passengers, the airline stated that "The arrest and detention of one of the passengers involved was a police decision and is not something that British Airways can comment on.

The remaining offloaded passengers were offered overnight accommodation where appropriate and were rebooked on alternative flights".

"British Airways has a long and proud history of serving Nigeria and its people.

For over 70 years the Airline has flown from the UK to Nigeria, connecting the country to the rest of the world. We are working with the Nigerian government to ensure we continue to provide our Nigerian passengers with the high standard of customer service British Airways is renowned for", it said.