It appears that the Nigerian government finally realized that a more decisive response was needed to the March 27th Brutish Airways incident where 136 Nigerians discriminated against solely on the basis of their Nigerian heritage.
On Wednesday, April 23rd, Felix Hyatt, the Minister of Aviation and Transportation, publicly condemned the incident, on behalf of the federal government, and stated the nation's opinion that maltreatment of Nigerian passengers by foreign airlines must immediately cease.
This statement was immediately followed on Thursday, April, 24th, by Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Madueke, summoning the British High Commissioner, Robert Dewar, for a discussion of the matter. There, he "reiterated the [nation's] posture on Citizen Diplomacy" and warned that the federal government "would not tolerate the inhuman treatment of any Nigerian for any reason, even when there are allegations of criminal activities." Madueke went on to inform the High Commissioner that "bilateral relationship which the two nations have enjoyed over the years ha[ve] ensured the [government's] temperate reactions to the matter, but to maintain it, Nigerians must be treated with dignity within and outside the shores of the country." The High Commissioner, Dewar, promised to investigate the matter.
Additionally, on the same day, Harold Demuren, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), summoned representatives of British Airways. Demuren gave Brutish Airways until Monday, the 28th of April to provide details of the airlines plans to compensate the Nigerian passengers that were discriminated against on the much discussed March 27th Brutish Airways incident at Heathrow airport. Demuren also requested a full accounting of the incident. Brutish Airways was represented by its Nigerian staff, and Demuren criticized "the absence of the European staff of the airline who work in the airline’s office in Nigeria at the meeting." As a result, Demuren terminated the meeting and directed the airline to return with its top officers, and warned that the airline should not treat an issue, which the government is interested in, with such disregard.
I am sure that most Nigerians are pleased to see the decisive action that has finally kicked into gear on this matter. I am especially happy that Demuren demanded Brutish Airways return with its top staff members to answer questions about the incident. The failure of British Airways to send their 'top brass' to the Demuren meeting smacks of disrespect and only goes to reinforce the conviction that Nigerians were, and are, disrespected by the airline. If that is Brutish Airways' idea of proper customer relations, then I will be surprised that any person, be it a Nigerian or not, would travel with the carrier.
THE BASSA MEMBER'S COMMENT
Nigerian Curiosity recently received a comment from a member of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA). The member recently expressed their apology for the Brutish Airways incident and expressed that although they have never had any problems with Nigerian passengers, they believe that a security risk prompted the pilot's reaction and thus the ensuing maltreatment.
While I sincerely appreciate the fact that this BASSA member (one of hundreds that visited the site within hours of Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 2 being published on Wednesday) took the time to communicate with this website and its readers, I cannot help but wonder what sort of security threat Nigerians would pose on any flight that would require that they all be removed from the flight and that the one man that spoke out about a fellow passengers inhumane treatment, that man being Ayodeji Omotade, who also happens to be a British citizen, would then be banned for life from the airline and not receive his luggage for weeks.
Therefore, I maintain my stance in support of my fellow Nigerians and, in fact, all people who have been and are constantly disrespected by entities such as Brutish Airways merely on the basis of presumed negative stereotypes. Nigerians are not the only ones complaining about Brutish Airways, our brethren from the Carribean and Asia have also been maltreated by the airway and this has prompted others to join Nigerians in boycotting the airline. So, for Brutish Airways to have neither provided a proper response and apology to the Nigerians it disrespected, nor, introduced concrete plans to prevent a repeat of the incident speaks volumes of the carriers attitude towards not just Nigerians, but customers in general.
Nevertheless, I encourage continued communication between all parties to this matter. Like many others, I only wish that the Nigerian government had taken these and more steps much sooner. I have come to understand that many have set April 30th as the day on which the boycott begins. I for one am purchasing a ticket for my mother to travel for a visit to the United States and a later trip to England to visit her family members. I will not purchase those tickets with Brutish Airways or any of their partner and affiliate carriers that I mentioned in Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1. In fact, when I spend my money with Brutish Airways' competitors, i will be sure to inform them that they got my money in protest of Brutish Airway's apparent disregard for Nigerians. Furthermore, I have also contacted members of my husband's family who call England home and instructed that they are no longer to patronize the carrier. I believe in taking a stand for what I believe in. No matter how small said stand might be. I encourage others to do the same and especially encourage the Nigerian government to remember that its sole duty is to protect and serve all Nigerians.
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect PT. 2