Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sosoliso one year on..

The papers are full of full colour full page memorials to the children who lost their lives a year ago in the Sosoliso tragedy. The millions of naira the newspapers earn from this ad revenue should ideally be spent in some philanthropic way - contributions to a memorial at the Loyola Jesuit school for example. Unfortunately, their perspective is purely making-money, so this will not happen. It seems completely immoral to profit from this tragedy in this way, but when have Nigerian newspapers had any concern in this direction?

Another difference between Ghana and Nigeria - as soon as you land at Accra airport, you find all the information displays working. I have never seen such a sight in a Nigerian airport, in line with the country's distaste for providing basic customer-friendly information. Even the newish Virgin Nigeria area at Murtala Mohammed Airport lacks the most basic information - one arrives not knowing when the next flights will be or how full they are. Forget about having any form of electronic real-time display, there is not even any printed matter on flight times.

The staff work at a snail pace and regularly stop to gist one another (a Nigerian pasttime), meaning that one has to queue for one to two hours just to purchase a ticket. A late-middle aged Egyptian woman trying to get on a flight to Kano was consistently rebuffed by the staff - one of whom declared, 'I have the right not to serve you'. In the end, the flight was delayed by half an hour and she could have easily got on the flight, but was refused. She left the airport in tears. As several of my fellow passengers commented, 'Virgin Nigeria is slowly becoming Nigerian Airways.' Further evidence of VN's inability to provide basic information to customers lies in their new airmile promotion scheme. None of the adverts indicate what benefits there are to accruing the airmiles, nor does the scheme work online. Weirder still, Virgin Nigeria's airmiles are not connected to Virgin Atlantic (or vice-versa). Another odd thing is that VN has banned the use of Ipods on board - quite why is a mystery (its not as if there is any electro-magnetic disturbance). It is a shame that the Virgin brand is now associated with an increasingly uncaring and dysfunctional company. The model the airlines have in Nigeria is still based on the catch-a-danfo model. You turn up, you have no information about when the vehicle will leave, the plane never ever leaves on time, the whole business of getting on the plane must be as stressful as possible...


Kemisola,  1:33 pm  

Jeremy, did I hear you say memorials ... ad revenue should ideally be spent in some philanthropic way? That is a swear language in the news media sector in Nigeria.

Charitable activties are not yet seen as norm in Nigerian society. The only event in the recent past that was for charitable course was the football match organised by Rufai in Abuja. The next charitable activities will be by politicians contesting in the forthcoming elections, not out of sincerity but just to get people attention and be voted into political office. What a shame?

Anonymous,  3:50 pm  

If I'm not mistaken, Virgin Nigeria's frequent flyer program is now tagged "Eagleflier" and is now bonded with Virgin Atlantic's frequent flyer program. The info which was published on the Nigerian Tribune 2 days ago will probably appear shortly on the VN website...
Re the airport info display that is FAAN's duty but of course FAAN is a total joke. Expect nothing from them while a guy like Obasanjo is in power! that's just my opinion...As for VN quality I heard they are improving slowly...

johanna,  7:07 pm  

I think it is for the reason's describer re: service that Virgin Nigeria is not yet recognised as part of the wider Virgin group in the UK. My company is soon to rebrand Virgin Media and there are alot of criteria to meet in terms of customer service before that can take place. I think that is the reason Virgin Nigeria is not yet on the Virgin Company website in the UK and why I cannot as an employee of Virgin UK get discounted rates on thier services yet - argh!

Anonymous,  8:16 pm  

loyola already has a memorial hall and it should be dedicated today...but they can still donate their money sha

there is also a memorial jesuit secondary school being built in PH, the land was donated by rivers state government

dami,  8:17 pm  

jeremy are u thinking of moving to ghana or you are just rubbing it in?

Charitable activities in nigeria are just PR stunts NTA is usually there "come and look at me,i am giving this people okada and bags of rice" where is my chieftancy?

Anonymous,  9:32 pm  

Incidentally, I recently flew for the first time with Virgin Nigeria and I was very impressed. I came expecting Nigeria Airways, and left with Virgin. The only people that let us down were MM Airport Air Traffic Control, who couldn't find us a parking space on our return, It's not as if they've got much to do is it?

@Johanna: NTL Customer Service SUCKS!

Anonymous,  10:47 am  

Hmmm, Jeremy you said "It seems completely immoral to profit from this tragedy in this way, but when have Nigerian newspapers had any concern in this direction?"

You're right, it is immoral to profit from mass tragedies. However, though this is true of Nigerian newspapers, it is also true of many newspapers in other countries - North America included. For instance, the 9/11 tragedy is regularly re-hashed every year. Papers even go so far as to "tell the stories" of individual families for profit...I'd be hard-pressed to believe that the newspaper companies part with their profit by donating the money to the families they report on.

I guess the same goes to Kemisola - many politicians worldwide utilize charity events to increase their voter recognition. This has become so commonplace that the Soros foundation put on a conference titled "How Some Politicans Exploit and Abuse Charity - And What Ought to be Done About It", in order to address that issue.

Essentially, my point is that it is unfortunate that both of these issues exist in Nigeria; however, they are not unique to Nigeria at all. In fact, they are practiced quite prevalently world-wide.

Anonymous,  9:40 am  

I was able to use my airmiles to get a free flight from Lagos - London, using Virgin Atlantic.

I missed my VA flight going from Lagos to London and was told that if I wanted to get onto the next one I would have to pay 100 pounds! There was no way on this planet that i was going to do that so promptly informed them that I had a lot of airmiles and would use it to purchase my ticket. After much perplexed looks and frantic conversation,the VA staff finally honoured the transaction and got me my free ticket although I had to pay a handling fee of 6000 naira. 6000 naira is certainly better than spending 100 pounds.
So that option is definitely just have to insist on it because a lot of VA Nigerian staff are unaware of this.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP