Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on the BA story

A well-written riposte to the BA-bashers from Tolu Ogunlesi:


I should start by saying I do not work for the British Airways. I am simply a Nigerian asking questions that I think we all should ask ourselves before we, in our collective rage, consign an 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.”

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 this 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. (Whether he is to be believed or not is each reader’s individual choice.)

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. Much of which, very sadly, may be true. I must confess that I have not heard much that would endear anyone to British Airways. Perhaps in reality they are the cut-and-dried racist behemoth that their attackers would want us to believe they are; filled with stiff-upper-lipped ex-colonialists still mourning the demise of the transatlantic slave trade. Just last month they banned super-model, Naomi Campbell from flying with them, for spitting in a policeman’s face. Two years ago they banned the rapper, Snoop Dogg from their flights – for life – after his entourage smashed bottles and behaved violently at Heathrow.

But surely they do not hold a monopoly on “racism”, do they? In the organised maltreatment of Nigerians by foreign organisations, BA must come a distant second, behind the Embassies and High Commissions, which collect thousands of naira as application fees, ask us to queue up in the sun, harass us with overzealous NIGERIAN security-men, and then turn down our visa applications. Yet not once has any group of Nigerians called for a boycott of a foreign embassy. Why? Is it because we can’t do without their visas and work permits and green cards? Shame on us.

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.) In this fighting back, has anyone bothered to ask if the 133 passengers initially thrown off the flight were ALL Nigerians?

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.”

We don’t need to hire psychologists to officially diagnose us as a country at home with unruliness. Yes, we are the happiest people on earth, but we have also 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 (domestic or 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 in actual fact “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. 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. 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.

But no. When we are made to fly in engined coffins manned by overworked pilots, and given permission to land on runways bustling with cows, touts and potholes, all we do is whimper, perhaps grumble, and life goes on. We dey kampe! Nothing dey happen! No shaking! 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.

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. We get away with a lot within Nigeria, so perhaps we think we get away outside as well.

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. BA should apologise, genuinely, and overhaul their crisis management response system. 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.

Tolu Ogunlesi (c) May 2008


Anonymous,  10:57 pm  

As I started reading, I got furious but I kept reading. I don't agree with all he said but he makes a lot of sense. We Nigerians grumble and deal with our own inadequacies but when we have to deal with others' we raise hell.

But at the same token, we expect to be treated by them just as they do their own. Don't mistreat us because our leaders/chiefs/ogas do.

Nigeriansummit 11:13 pm  

Because we do not have our own airline does not mean we cannot boycott British Airways.
One thing we need to realize is the fact that Nigeria as a big emerging market has a lot of leverage to use against all these foreign companies. We need to start using it.

adefunke 11:45 pm  

Right on the money honey.

omidanbellafricaine 11:58 pm  

thank goodness someone finally sees my point of view

Coca Colonial,  12:53 am  

He's eloquently wrong.

Human Rights 101: never side with weak against the strong.

Collective Action 101: do not blame the victim.

I put it down to his youth, I guess. It's like a woman protesting
rape, and being told that women are known to nag! Being told that
both rape and nagging are wrong.

Or, faced with African-Americans marching for their civil rights, hearing it mentioned that blacks are disproportionately guilty of violent crime.

Yes, Nigerians are unruly. So
what? Nigeria-based airlines aren't particularly gentle with their
customer. Does that mean BA is absolved of its own responsibilities and its
own vaunted standards? I hope people follow through on this
collective action, and make BA feel it. I'm no fan of the brittle
pride Naija people sometimes show, but these incidents do go beyond
the pale.

gungun 1:33 am  

Author is right, but in the final analysis, we end up having to demand respect instead of earning it because otherwise none comes our way. It's a shame really. BA will survive without Nigeria, and Nigeria can survive without BA. To each his own.

Naapali 3:52 am  

I agree with many things in Mr.(?) Ogunlesi's piece, especially regarding how we as Nigerians are willing to accept less from ourselves than we would from others. I agree it is a shame we have no viable Nigerian airlines. I do not believe a National airline is a requirement (somehow the USA has done without one). I believe it is a shame that with all the years of oil wealth that none of the many who have profited from it have been able to establish and run a viable international airline.

I disagree though that BA should be absolved of their responsibility for the manner they handled this case. I have not flown BA for years and many years ago decided to never fly them. This was after a sub-par transatlantic flight (London-Philly). BA does not treat its passengers as well as many other airlines do, BA has been shown to attempt to sabotage its competition and has been fined for fixing fares to keep them high.

Do Nigerians selectively protest, yes. Should Nigerians protest BAs action in this case. Yes! Should Nigerians demand more of themselves and their leaders. Yes.

Anonymous,  9:13 am  

I really don't understand why so many people are getting so worked up about BA? there are so many other options to fly if you want to.

Have to agree with Tolu, I have flown around many places in the world and I have to say that the BAD Nigerian flyers are the worst in the world. They listen to no rules, they argue, the shout, they demand etc etc. I'm not surprised when cabin crew fear for their safety at times.

As Tolu says surely it's time to start using this Nigerian passion on something that will actually make a difference to Nigerians. Something at home which people have no other option to....the Government or PHCN or something worthwhile. Boycotting BA which not positively impact the lives of anyone.

ijebuman 9:43 am  

True, we Nigerians get our own for body, but not all Nigerians behave badly.
I work in the Travel sector and if you've ever been on a plane with unruly drunk Brits, you would think all Brits are a bunch of 'football hooligan', 'beer bellied', rude, alcoholic 'chavs'.

The thing is, BA should have handled this matter differently, the fact that none of their 'top dogs' has even bothered to address this matter says a lot.

Anonymous,  10:03 am  

I STILL don't get it.
Why is this the issue that gets everyone going?
Coco Colonial, are you really comparing the treatment of these people to the rape of women? to the opression of black americans after slavery?
There are people who can't put hand to mouth in your country, and you're bangnig on about a fracas on a plane?

Waffarian 10:36 am  

Tolu is right in many areas and so wrong on one point. If people have decided for fucking once in this country to rally against something, I say, please, go for it! This never happens, the fact that people decide to finally stop complaining and do something, so I am all up for this action...and I could care less if it was BA or Lufthansa, they all have shitty customer service...

By the way, has anyone ever seen passengers for Turkey, Iraq, Iran, etc...you wanna talk about raised voices and "overload"? or...maybe you've never seen the confusion with Somalians with their loads, tickets and language problems....I know Nigerians can be loud and rude but I have seen passengers from other countries insult the crap out of every single person in an airport...and let me not talk about the Albanians or even the Russians....you wanna see people demanding for food and drinks?

I think the Nigerian customer SHOULD demand respect but as Tolu rightfully said, we need to respect others as well. Perhaps this can be a starting point for Nigerians to start thinking about the way the world sees them. Also, just as we get involved when our own people are being treated badly, so should we when we see our people behaving badly. Recently, I was forced to say something when a drunk Nigerian sitting beside me started getting loud and unruly....I gave him a good telling off because I did not want the already rude airhostess to do it...if she had, the situation would have fast spiralled out of control, so I did it myself, and to my surprise, he was as meek as a lamb throughout the rest of the journey!

Smaragd 11:19 am  

I second Napaali and Ijebuman here.

has anyone ever travelled with conceited Americans? guaranteed, Nigerians dont have to be drunk to misbehave, but every country has their fair share of unruly people/passengers just as we have!

If we were deporting a british man, would we treat him thesame way that guy was treated(unlikely scenario yes, but think about it).

Tolu, even though no definite account was given as per the treatment mete out to the deportee, i believe that no sane person, least of all a man who was born and grew up in the UK, would intervene in the situation if nothing untoward wasnt happening!

It's true that we swallow shit from our leaders and fellow citizens, but is that reason enough not to stand up to other countries when they send crap our way?

Toks- Boy 2:09 pm  

Interesting piece but some points to ponder:
- Mr Ogunlesi seems to have access to more facts than BA or the UK media.
- Why did BA not come out with the facts the day after the incident?
-I have been on on over 40 flights to and from the UK in the past two years. At least half of the flights from London have had deportees on them. In my experience not a single one of them has made a whimper as they were too ashamed, enbarrassed or whatever and they went meekly to their seat.As a matter of fact there has been much banter between the deportee and the cops delivering them to the plane. I have also not seen a single one of them being manhandled or roughed up in any sort of manner by the security agencies so if this man was in distress then I suspect that there was a reason for it.
- I wonder why the deportee was not removed from the plane and taken back to jail (or hospital) if his distress was so great that he was he alarming other passengers? Or if that is not allowed under the law maybe he could have been removed until he calmed down?
- As one of the commentors on here mentions, the fact that Nigerians are actually standing up collectively to protest is surprising (and brilliant). Does the author not wonder what would so provoke a whole cabin to erupt to the point that they had to be ejected? This from a people who barely have to drive a mile in their country before they see a random act of violence?
- Does the fact that a local airline treat us like shit give everyone else the same right?
-The bottom line is that only those on the plane that evening and in the cabin can truly say what went down. However everything I read leads me to deduce that something about this does not smell right. I am not about to jump on the boycott BA bandwagon (I made the decision a long time ago not to fly with them if I had a choice based on my own experiences)but similarly if this campaign works as a wake up call to all airlines or service providers that we are sick and tired and we are not going to take it for much more, then good.

Anonymous,  3:34 pm  

Please Jeremy, tell Tolu Ogunlesi to SHUT IT!

Anengiyefa 3:44 pm  

Tolu Ogunlesi makes a lot of sense in what he said here. But it has not shifted my position on the matter by an iota. Regardless of what the situation is in Nigeria, Nigerians in Britain are entitled to the same treatment that others in Britain receive. We should not be treated differently because we are Nigerians.

British tourists can themselves be extremely loud and unruly, and it was not that long ago that football hooliganism was what Britain was most famous for. I agree with the person who said that not all Nigerians are badly behaved.

Sandrine 3:45 pm  

I don't agree with Tolu's point of view.There is a big difference between being mistreated at home and abroad.The question should be: Would have BA done the same thing if the protesting passengers would have been white and US citizens?Don't think so.

Anengiyefa 3:46 pm  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coca Colonial,  3:59 pm  

Nigeria is fucked.

We are standing at a urinal with our dicks out, trying to decide whether to piss.

No wonder the hooligans in and out of uniform had their way with us for so long. Dem slap you, you dey look like donkey.

Decisiveness, my people!

Anonymous,  4:15 pm  

Hello Tolu, In lite of what is on the burner, pls find here a mail in my box today. What are your comments???

BR ,


The Nigerian Village Square


We members of the Respect Nigeria Coalition (RNC) have resolved to officially commence the worldwide boycott of British Airways goods and services as from Thursday, 15 May, 2008. We are calling on every Nigerian and friends of Nigeria, every person who loves justice and fairness and every person who has a social conscience to vote against British Airways with the power of their purse.

On Thursday, 27 March 2008, British Airways officials and the police subjected Mr Ayodeji Omotade to degrading treatment and went further to eject the other 135 passengers (overwhelmingly Nigerians) from BA075 flight bound for Lagos Nigeria from London Heathrow Airport. Of course, we are acutely aware that without your unstinting support, this story would have been swept under the carpet. That is why today, we are once again calling on you to help deepen international consciousness about the campaign.

On Tuesday, April 15 2008, we made five specific demands on British Airways over this issue and asked that they address these before Wednesday, April 30, 2008. We asked British Airways to:
tender a clear and well-worded apology to all passengers affected by their discriminatory and intimidatory conduct aboard flight BA075 on 27 March, 2008 in a Nigerian national newspaper;
tender a clear and well-worded written apology and appropriate compensation to Mr Ayodeji Omotade for financial and emotional losses suffered as a result of the conduct of British Airways and its agents on the day;
withdraw all adverse statements made to the police about Mr. Ayodeji Omotade over this incident;
lift the ban imposed on Mr Ayodeji Omotade, even as he would still retain his right to decide whether or not to fly British Airways in the future, and
issue an undertaking that British Airways shall improve its customer care culture and desist from such practices that give the impression that the airline is arrogant, uncaring and discriminatory.
So far, British Airways has failed to do any of the above or give any indication of its intention to do any of the above. The terrible statements its faceless officials have been making in the press over this issue, both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, attest to the unwillingness of those who run the airline to see reason. In the face of British Airways’ stonewalling, it is therefore our intention to now inform you of our next line of action.

We members of the Respect Nigeria Coalition (RNC) have resolved to officially commence the worldwide boycott of British Airways goods and services as from Thursday, 15 May, 2008. We are calling on every Nigerian and friends of Nigeria, every person who loves justice and fairness and every person who has a social conscience to vote against British Airways with the power of their purse. We are calling on people to educate British Airways on the virtues of good corporate citizenship. Nigerians and friends of Nigeria all over the world will continue to sign the Petition/Protest Letter posted on our two websites – www.nigeriavillagesquare.com and www.respectnigerians.com as long as the protest continues.

We recognize the concern showed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the Nigerian Federal Government over this issue. We are aware that discussions are ongoing between agents of the Federal Government and British Airways, the details of which are unknown to us at this time. But we are not waiting for the Federal Government to teach British Airways that the customer is king. They will find that out as they continue to test our resolve, because we are absolutely determined to prove that it’s possible for people’s power to trounce corporate tyranny.

Finally, you, fellow Nigerians, are the most important pillars of support we have throughout this struggle. Please, stand solidly with us, for the man dies in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny of any sort.

Thank you for your support, care and attention.


Kennedy Emetulu
Michael Egbejumi-David
Tosin Awotesu.

(For and on behalf of Respect Nigerians Coalition)

Take Action

2. Send an e-mail to the CEO of British Airways, Willie Walsh, protesting over this mistreatment.
3. Sign the online petition compelling BA to apologize or face boycott
4. Phone British Airways to register your protest by calling British Airways Customer Relations department on 0844 493 0 787 (from within the UK); +44 1293 666245 (from outside the UK).
5. Write in to: British Airways, Customer Relations (S506), PO Box 5619, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2PG

cc,  6:38 pm  

Toks-boy, there's actually a joke like that about a deportee biting a policeman's nose on the plane, thereby "earning" himself a cushy place in a British prison........

Point here is Tolu is only exploring things from a different perspective. It is important to consider all angles in this matter before reaching a conclusion and making a decision. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

And when BA has been boycotted, how will we ensure that we get the good treatment we deserve from the next airline we choose to patronise?

Angry Nigerian 6:39 pm  

The fact that a man does not have a television set in his house does not mean he he cannot defend if he goes to watch TV in another man's house and the TV later gets missing and he gets accused.

The fact that we do not have an airline does not mean we should sit and look when we are treated inhumanely.

Ogunlesi. Please shut up your mouth..er sorry, shut up your keyboard.

anonymaus,  10:27 pm  

Mr Ogunlesi is correct, people get too excited and love commotion without thinking things through properly. Besides, when flying to Nigeria such things should be expected (sadly).

Let them boycott British Airways (BA), I'm sure they (BA) will recover. Do they (BA) care? If people feel that strongly let them not fly BA, it's their choice.

Anonymous,  11:41 pm  

Jeremy, well written does not equate well thought out.

Anonymous Again.

internationalhome 11:42 pm  

Clearly tolu ogunlesi misses the point. My disgust at the situation was not in what happened but how the matter was handled not just by BA but all other parties concerned...i.e. the Nigerian high commission and the government. It is indeed a very serious issues which BA has customarily swatted away like an bothersome insect. This issues has resonance because
a)it is an institutional problem BA has that goes beyond racism as reflected in the by the British media.
b) We are not talking about Nigeria or Nigerian entities but a British TNC which apparently has different rules for different customers, believe what you like, these rules are sometimes based on race which is inconcievable in this era of globalization
c)there is a serious problem with the Nigerian identity and its perception even within ourselves. That the 'Nigerian' BA staff member has the temerity to suggest that bad behaviour amongst customers in any part of the service industry is an inherently Nigerian behaviour is both pitiful and disgusting. Whilst at University in the UK, i worked as a customer service advisor in a call centre and belive me, if its abuse you want from the sophisticated British public, you will bloody well get it!
Perhaps Mr Ogunlesi should take his own advice and consider all issues available before alluding to inappropriate conclusions!

Morountodun 12:27 am  

I must admit to being saddened by the article as it offers no defence of the BA position, merely asks for introspection and also points the finger at perpetrators of similar offences in an attempt to deflect the criticism.

The people asking for a boycott are choosing their battles and asking us to vote with out feet. We need to remember that BA are providing a service we are apying for. Should you be willing to accept poor service in Nigeria without complaint thats your own choice.

Finally I'm really insulted that he mentions that the bad behaviour by Nigerians on flights is the norm and not the exception. The implication is that the majority of nigerians flying BA misbehave enroute. This is simply not true.

cc,  4:10 pm  

Some very interesting points have been raised here....

Anonymaus 10.27pm, BA will feel it if all Nigerians boycott them - Nigeria is one of the most populous nations in the world (the 8th most populous, last time I checked - and the most populous in Africa). And when you consider the large number of Nigerians who live or study outside Nigeria, it stands to reason that Nigerians do make up a significant percentage of all BA's customers.

Which brings us to the next point: why has the matter been handled so badly?(as Internationalhome pointed out). Do BA not realise or recognise the impact that the boycott will have on them financially and more importantly in terms of their corporate image as "the World's favourite airline"?

I think most of the angrier comments towards Mr Ogunlesi's comments are saying its not fair to tarnish all Nigerian fliers with the same brush, and even if there are some problems there (with the few bad egg fliers and the poor/non-existent Nigerian Airline Service standards) that does not give BA the right to treat us badly.

Surely this incident should serve as a wake-up call to the Nigerian Government? Should we really be lamenting the fact (in 2008) that BA is treating us badly, so we are going to throw our money at someone else and teach BA a lesson? Or should we be questioning why we no longer have a national airline and what the future holds for a country that is dependent on others for such basic things as transport and prefers to continue to enrich other countries purses rather than making the most of what we have at home (just think how much money would be made if everyone flying in and out of Nigeria flew on a Nigeria Airways plane....) and creating more jobs for our own unemployed people. A national airline is a symbol of national pride. I don't know how much prouder our Government officials will feel flying on Lufthansa or Virgin - probably just as proud as they do right now........

Anonymous,  5:49 pm  

But wait o. So because Nigerians are treated like shit by their leaders they should be treated like shit by BA? Or everyone is racist, so why should BA be singled out? What kind of twisted logic is that.

And don't tell me that Nigerians are in denial.

I think the tolu-writer is just a saboteur.

Anonymous,  5:56 pm  

IMHO, unfortunately, this is coming at a time when BA has to deal with a scandal of humongous proportions (i.e. Heathrow T5), so i'm not sure this is top priority for them right now. Willie Wonkers has probably started filtering email coming from nigeria(assuming he'd even bother to read them in the first place)....

Anonymous,  7:09 pm  

These words are credited to MLK: Cowardice asks: is it safe? Consensus asks: it is popular? Character asks: is it right?

Nigerians should ask if boycotting BA is right? IMHO - yes it is.

Ogunlesi should rethink his stand on cutting noxious BA some slack.

misspumping 9:25 am  

well written this is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth so help u God.

Beauty 12:23 pm  

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves." Julius Caesar. Full story here

Kiibaati 4:54 pm  

I disagree violently with Tolu except on one point; our charity must begin at home.

Flame 11:47 pm  

The customer is always right!.It wouldn't take anything for BA to tender the apology thats being demanded.They should look at the big picture and think of what this incident will do to their precious customer care record.

dervish 2:39 am  

This response angered me more than anything I've read recently. I will try to address my points of contention one at a time.

First of all, the author's comments about the "rule of gra-gra" do not apply here at all. The passengers on this flight were not trying to "spurn the organized route", they were protesting unfair treatment. It's called freedom of speech, and there was no reason for all those people to be removed from that flight. Furthermore, I have personally witnessed BA staff treat Nigerian passengers without a modicum of respect, and I can honestly say that they (the passengers) were not being unruly at the time.

Secondly, what I think this article grossly overlooks if the starting point of this entire event. The man said "please do not kill him". And then what? Is this any reason to remove someone from a plane, detain them for hours, and then confiscate their luggage? Whether or not the deportee was actually near the point of death or even being maltreated is beside the point. Mr. Omotade made a harmless statement. It should have, and I believe with a different set of passengers would have, been overlooked as such.

I will not deny that Nigerians have a tendency to be brash, or that we all suffer enough at the hands of our own airline personnel and government officials. That however, is also beside the point. What exactly would the author suggest we all do? Take the bus from Lagos to Abuja? I do agree however, that we could all be a little more vocal about solving our problems at home.

In response to the comment about whether we need visas, work permits and green cards from foreign embassies, the answer is a resounding yes! We do need those things. Sad as it may be, Nigerians go to other countries for various reasons. Doing this requires proper documentation, which can only be (legally anyway) obtained from one place.

This leads me to my final point. British Airways has a history of mistreating Nigerian passengers. I am yet to see them ask someone from another country to step behind the ticket counter load their own luggage on to the conveyor belt at the airport because it was overweight (Before anyone protests, the fees for overweight luggage to go to employee insurance for back injuries. These people are hired to carry suitcases, regardless of their weight. I am sure you don't make people do your job when they come to your place of work). The point is: there are other ways to get to England (or any other country for that matter) from Nigeria. We do not need British Airways, and if they are going to forget this fact, perhaps they do not need our hard-earned money.

Anonymous,  4:04 am  

A few extra points:

The fact that a country does not have an international airline does in any way justify such atrocious behavior.

The presence of non-Nigerians on the flight changes nothing. The incident began with unfair treatment of a NIGERIAN. It would also be interesting to know the identities of the 64 who were let back on first.

Also, it sounds to me like you and Mr. Ayodeji have given up on your own nation. A case of internal racism perhaps?

Overall, after a second read-through I have to say again that not much of this argument makes sense. The examples given of BA racism, for instance? - clear cases of misconduct on the part of the victims.

We ARE entitled to airline food and wine, we paid for it! (just a sidebar).

Kpakpando 9:17 pm  

So the author is suggesting we swallow shit because that's what is being served to us at home too?

Anonymous,  7:06 am  

This is a saboteur piece. Not good. Not thought-out, and surely not well-meaning.

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