Monday, April 21, 2008

British Airways, or as I rather call them, 'Brutish' Airways, recently threw over 130 Nigerian passengers off a flight that was scheduled to leave Heathrow Airport for Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. One Nigerian passenger, Ayodeji Omotade, was even banned from flying on Brutish Airways for life, just for coming to the defense of a fellow Nigerian that was in fear for his life. The result, is that Nigerians around the world have started a petition to get an apology from British Airways and encouraged a boycott. It is important for consumers to demand and receive a certain level of customer service and for an entity like British Airways to ignore this fact and disrespect Nigerians is unacceptable. As such, I support the efforts to get better treatment. However, I believe that a more long-term approach must be employed so as to teach entities like Brutish Airways and others that disrespecting Nigerians will no longer be tolerated.

Nigerians have consistently received abuse and disrespect from various sources. In South Africa, for instance, police brutality prompted Nigeria's High Commission to officially protest the maltreatment of Nigerian citizens in various parts of South Africa. There have been numerous stories of Nigerian immigrants killed while in police custody and of course, one can never forget Brian Ross's (ABC 20/20) description of Lagos as a "corrupt, crime-ridden disgrace of a city." Such abuse and constant disrespect has been met by persistent and repeated calls by Nigerians for an apology and unfortunately, far too often, these demands fall on deaf ears.

However, that does not mean that we Nigerians should merely sit back and continue to be disrespected. We must continue efforts to organize ourselves and use our sheer size and spending power to discipline offending actors into recognizing that Nigerians, like any other group, must be treated at all times with respect. To expect anything less would be foolhardy and would sacrifice the efforts that many great Nigerians, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and other individuals strove for when they worked for the independence of our nation. We must not shame them.

I completely support the efforts of Nigerian Village Square, and others to sign the petition, and boycott Brutish Airways directly. However, I do not think that a boycott is a sufficient reaction. More stringent and drastic action is necessary. In order to ensure that neither Brutish Airways or any other corporate entity will disregard Nigerians again, a more longterm goal must be formulated to address this recent incident. I addition to boycotting British Airways, Nigerians must encourage other non-Nigerians to boycott British Airways as well. This is not just a Nigerian issue, this is a human rights issue. To treat any human being like an animal is uncalled for. To then brutishly bully another man who stood up for the rights of that deportee and then slander his name in public, is absolutely unjust.

Furthermore, Nigerians must look beyond British Airways. British Airways owns a 13.5% stake in another airline, Iberia. Nigerians, Africans and indeed, all like minded people, should also boycott Iberia. Nigerian money is just as 'green' as anybody else's and once we are more judicious about who we give it to, we will definitely begin to command more respect. Therefore, let us go even beyond British Airways and Iberia. The boycott should target all of Brutish Airways 'One World' Partners and other airline affiliates such as ComAir (which flies in southern Africa), Longanair (which flies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), and SunAir (which operates from Denmark). Brutish Airways 'One World' partners, that should also be boycotted, are -
  1. American Airlines
  2. Cathay Pacific
  3. Finnair
  4. Iberia
  5. Japan Airlines (JAL)
  6. LAN
  7. Malev
  8. Qantas
  9. Royal Jordanian
Oh, but there is much more Nigerians can do to put a dent in the wallets of Brutish Airways and its associates. The London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel and one of England's top tourist attractions. It is also sponsored by Brutish Airways. If Nigerians stopped visiting that landmark and mounted an effective campaign to discourage tourists from other parts of the world from visiting it as well, British Airways and others would definitely think twice about customer service and how they treat their Nigerian patrons.

Additionally, Nigerians must demand that Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, be fired. Considering the numerous disasters that have occurred at Brutish Airways since he has been in charge, this incident is just one of many that illustrates his inability to properly lead a competent organization. But, particularly as the human rights of Ayodeji Omotade were disregarded under his watch, and many other Nigerians have been disrespected by his employees, he should be directly responsible for the consequences.

These are simply a few things that Nigerians can do to ensure that there is no repeat of the disrespectful treatment doled out by Brutish Airways. The passions that have been stirred by this recent incident with Brutish Airways must not be wasted. It must be turned into a positive force to effect change on many more levels, and especially within Nigeria and amongst Nigerians. That will be the focus of my post tomorrow, Wednesday, the 23rd of April.

Further Reading:
- Watch the BBC's interview of Ayodeji Omotade here.
- Visit
- 'Boycott British Airways' (Akin at Blog City)
- British Airways:Apologize to nigerians Or Prepare For A Boycott (The Afro Beat)


UPDATE (April 25th): Read the third part in the 'Brutish' Airways series here. It presents the new actions the Nigerian government has taken to respond to the incident and also contains my response to the comment left by a BASSA member (British Airways union).
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wellsbaba said...

well the insults n verbal abuses nigeria has gotten frm diff pples of d world is a result of our corrupt image!as4me,d real issue is not british airways treatment to omitade but the public view of nigeria n nigerians...the search nigerians are subjected to at international airports are more rigorous when compared to pples frm elsewhere...immediately any 4riegner hears "I'm a nigerian" he thinks d speaker is corrupt!so theres dis gross n international contempt n disrespect for nigerians...I think if we can work on our image peeps'll bgin to respect I knw ur female,ur doin a good job!

guerreiranigeriana said...

nice ssd...i left some long response on afrobeat (i think) about the brevity and short-termedness of just boycotting or petitioning british airways for an apology...i agree with your ideas laid out seems to talk something serious these days...hit them in the pocket, and mofos start listening...

...about our image internationally, i agree that we must start to clean that up...but we must also be very vigilant and purposeful when we allow others to come to our country in the name of 'research' or 'publicity' or when we allow others to tell our stories...i remember that 20/20 show and was highly incensed that the government would allow that jack-ass to come and say such rubbish about the country, especially as similar could have been said for anthropologist at brown wrote a book titled: culture of corruption and there was some other piece to the the discussion, people asked him why he would title the book as such and the possible implications for other nigerians...he gave some bullshit answer...but we must continue to challenge the perpetuation of these one-sided depictions of nigeria and nigerians...corruption doesn't only occur in comment is getting long...i'm jumping off my soapbox on this issue for now...don't be surprised if you see a post soon about the depiction of nigerians in media...

...thought-provoking piece...forward thinking...sharpton and jackson should come read this and take notes for their next 'activist' work...

guerreiranigeriana said...

thanks for the slogan!!...haha...that's if naijachic doesn't beat me to the post first...if she does, i'll pass the slogan's a good one!...i do like calling ba brutish airways...hehe...

ablackjamesbond said...

The question i want to ask is what the Nigerian government is doing to right this wrong.

I am all for the measures u advocated for in ur write up but i believe the government also needs to do something abt this incidence.

This shouldnt be treated as a corporate affair issue at all. The Nigerian government needs to step in, meet with their british counterpart and make someone pay for this.

@ Wellsbaba, Whilst i agree that we have an image problem and we ought to do something abt that asap, i do nt believe we should allow any entity, business or sovereign, to treat our pple anyhow.


@ Black James Bond: I agree and have addressed the issue of the government's (non)response but had to save it for tomorrow as the post was getting long. I hope you swing by on Wednesday to share some more insight.

@ 'Baba: Since I started this blog, I have been a firm advocate of better PR for Nigeria. I have even volunteered for the job (for a price) . Check my archives by simply using the label 'PR' and you should be able to pull up some older posts. Nigeria's image is not a good one and we Nigerians have allowed a small minority to squander our good name and reputation. Did you know that Nigerians in America are the most educated single group of people here? No one ever shares that tidbit. Also, Nigerians have been instrumental in solving many of Africa's problems, from assisting the ANC in its struggle against Apartheid, to assisting Zimbabwe and other southern African countries in gaining independence. It is a shame that the history books do not account for this. Additionally, whenever there is a crisis on the continent requiring immediate military response, who do you think everyone calls for assistance? Well, Nigeria, of course, because our military has proven time and again that it is dependable and up to the job. Ask our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan(Darfur) and Ethiopia. Time and again Nigerians have given their lives, their sweat, their tears and constantly, repeatedly we are mistreated and disrespected. British Airways forgets the days when they literally begged Nigerians to fly their airline in hopes that we would spend our petro-dollars at Harrods (where they constantly welcomed us with signs that said "eka bo" (welcome in Yoruba). I hate to go on a rant, but it is just so frustrating that we Nigerians continue to allow ourselves to be disrespected. But, I have so many more points that have been raised in the second part of this post and I hope that you will return. Thank you, though for taking the time to participate in this discussion. It is much appreciated.

Thanks for the compliment and support.


@ Gnaija: yes, some people fail to realize that simply welcoming foreign media/press into Nigerian, will not guarantee a positive story. That is what happened with Brian Ross and the 20/20 debacle.

"but we must continue to challenge the perpetuation of these one-sided depictions of nigeria and nigerians."

Indeed. For too long, Nigerians have been silent and cowered when such allegations were flung our way. Nigeria and its people do not represent negativity or fraud and do not deserve to be disrespected. This BA boycott will and should be the first in many attempts to teach our critiques how to address us properly.

Thanks for taking the time to read, comment and encourage others to learn about how to use strategy properly. Make sure you wing by tomorrow for the conclusion.

Sherri said...

it's a good thing am on a rant

there is so much i want to say about this issue but i wont.

i applaud ur efforts but i wud wait for all the facts to emerge b/4 i pick up my placard.
let us remember that, charity begins at home.

Sherri said...

comment i left on pink satin's blog:

much ado about nothing.(my opinion)
please examine the facts b/4 blowing fuses.
respect shud be earned not demanded.
what is the point of a petition?
if indeed the service is that bad, why do nigerians continue to fly ba?

the people involved shud seek legal action if they've been treated unfairly.

i find it strange no one was jumping up and down when a naija dude was killed aboard an iberia airlines flight by spaniard immigration officers.
could it be they were respectful enough to tape his mouth shut?

Unknown said...

There have been so many incidents, including the Iberia one as Sherri pointed out. I guess 'Brutish' Airways figured if there was no fuss over a death, why the noise over one person being held to the ground?

The point is until we Nigerians start voting with our actions rather than just our mouths, nothing's gonna change. Yes I support all short and long-term measures to deal with Brutish Air. Never flown Brutish and never will. As for the Nigerian govt, forget it. The govt is a joke when it comes to the rights of its citizens whether home or abroad.

SSD's suggestions are the right way to go but don't expect any govt support. Let's all do this and get our non-naija friends to boycott all BA related services forever. It includes not buying their shares, not visiting their restaurants or resorts or anything else that's resourced by them.

TheAfroBeat said...

I am right there with you Solo! This whole thing isn't new by any means, they've been consistently treating Nigerians with gross disregard, which is completely dumbfounding seeing as Lagos-London is one of their most lucrative routes. I'm not saying Virgin Nigeria and Virgin Atlantic are far better, but my experience having flown on all 3 (plus lufthansa - we'll save that 'tory for another day/boycott) is that BA really (consistently) takes the piss.
As for getting Nigerians to not patronize the rest of one world alliance, hmm, that's a toughie (i feel like focused/directed action is a tad bit easier to organize than the broader option) but we can definitely try. So na next week or next month? I feel a lot of folks travelling next week have already bought their tickets, but if we shoot for 1st week of June or sth, that might be more feasible. What say all?
P.S. i typed this comment hours ago so forgive me if i'm repeating other pp's comments.

For the love of me said...

I am happy that you are not leaving this issue to die. I completely support the boycott.The petition has been signed by over 2000 Nigerians but this is no where near enough. I think we should take it outside the web. I know Nigeria Village square planned to run a campaign on one of the national dailies, I'm not sure they did. If we really want change we must stretch ourselves. How do we run a campaign at home?
Summer is almost here, and Nigerians in Nigeria are going to be trouping here in droves.They are the ones we need to reach out to. Most of them are not aware of the call for boycott. Because the internet is not as huge as home as it is here. So I would suggest we think on the lines of getting the people at home to use alternatives.
@wellsbaba, it doesnt matter how corrupt we are, no foreigner has the right to insult us.

They insult and treat us as they like not because we are corrupt but because they know that we are a siddon look people.I bet the captain and his cohorts is right now laughing at the 'monkeys' he threw off his plane.

And lets stop waiting for the government, they suck, and are unlikely to do anything.

Today's ranting said...

This is so annoying.Diserspect for Nigerians has been something that has been going on for a long time. What is the government doing about it? It's really pathetic that our leaders do not rise up to fight for our rights in situations like this. Just look at the way they extort money from Nigeians through visa fees. Nigerians have cried over the isue but the government has turned deaf ears. We did not vote them into office so our welfare is not their responsibility. Let's see how they would handle the issue. Nigerians boycott BRUTISH airways.

Ms. emmotions said...

i ve exhausted all my energy on this topic and am glad its being going round blogs and sites.

quite frankly, its a bit difficult to achieve ur opinion as a way of long term measure against this kind of disrespect from BA, my fear is that nigeria in our usuallu character may abandon this fight half way and u will agree wit me that it wont be a new thing.

i hear they are protecting come April 30th but my fear as always is .....are they able to keep to their words of carryin out the protest and all,

i also agree with @ ablackjamesbong, i think our govt ought to ve done something in this regards, one would expect that BA would ve been querried or something to ensure we dont and wont take kindly to such insults in future,

let me sign out now, am done wit this BA insolence for now,


Ms. emmotions said...

* protestin

pls pardon my typo, browsin on coy time and need to rush

For the love of me said...

Our president has ears after all.Still on BRUTISH Airways

shhhh said...

they need to be taught a valuable lesson. i joined the petition by the way

God's child said...

I've actually never flown BA ever before!! But all those european airlines are all the same, look at yeye BA, as in if all the naija folks just stopped flying, would they be in business? That London-Lag route is their best one.
Sha no be our fault, na naija airways lol
this is ridiculous though, and the guy get UK citizenship, guess it didnt matter to them.
Enough is enough, we no go gree!

Tininu said...

Okay this is a topic i have purposefully ignored as i have been loyal to BA for all the 22 years of my life...I have tried soo many other airlines and they have failed but BA has kept me happy...BA is not at fault here!!!

In respects to the Terminal 5 issues, i would like to point out that BA did not open and operate termianl 5, the BAA do. Biritish Airways were the only airline who were brave enough to take on the task out of all other airlines and try out a new system, in hopes to try and provide a better system to their customers and they failed!

In respects to the racial issue at hand, i am going to make somethings clear.. In order for an individual to be deported 3 parties are involved, the immigartion authority( dept of justice, who would also notify the Nigerian embassy in england). the british police (in this case transport police) and the airline (BA)...

Firstly a lot us were not on the flight so we dont know the context in which the deportee was brought in, if he is resiting to co- operate the transport police, they will do what they have to do to get the job done..The nigerian's on board, complained because the probably felt that their fellow citizen was being mistreated, despite the fact that they dont know the crime or allegations that have been brought up against him.. i have reason to believe that if he was brought in for reasons such as molestation or a convicted terrorist in aid to one of the major bombings, the people who stood up for him might not have...

With most of the passengers on the plane now upset, throwing a fuss and confronting the BA staff and the transport police.. Firstly BA have a firm policy in respects to their crew's and staff safety ( and so do all airlines) and it clearly states in their small print..if members of their staff are assaulted verbally or physically. BA will take action, as they do not tolerate such action or assault against their staff..This was the case with runway model Naomi campbell, who was given a life ban at terminal 5 after being removed from the plane... and the nigerian incident was no different...

Secondly the passengers, were taken off the plane because of security issues, if a considerable number of passengers on the plane are frantic and are united under the same cause. that can lead to revolt or possible threat of hi- jacking of the plane. Both the pilot and the transport police came to an agreement over this.

Lastly the individual who was arrested, was probably the most out spoken passenger and the most confrontational. He was arrested and removed by the transport police not British Airways..He therefore cannot sue British Airways and BA can also claim ignorance( as they do not deport and it is the law for the to transport a deportee when given adequate notice..UK Immigration Act 1971) and will have a very strong case in respects to passenger and staff safety on board the aircraft.

So an assumption that if this incident occurred on another airline the very same thing would have happened is fair.

I am not saying what they did was in all fairness right, but they have protocols to follow especially when faced with security issues and they followed them.

I work at the ministry of justice, under the immigration and asylum department and i deal with rejection/ appeals of visa and deportations. So i am pretty up to date with the law's abiding this case as bulletins are sent to us via e-mail every 20 seconds.

If the passenger wanted to sue anyone it would be the transport and immigration police and frankly i don't think he has a strong case and he would have to do that in England..But BA has released a statement that nobody received a life time ban on the day of the incident..


@ Tininu: Thanks for stopping by. I am glad that you, like Beauty, have had a great relationship with BA. That being said, that does not change the facts at hand.

Thanks for pointing out that the BAA owns and operates Brutish Airways. I will also add, for future reference, that bit of info that Brutish Airways id BAA's largest customer. Thanks for the specifics, nonetheless.

As to the deportee, none of the reports I read nor the BBC interview of Mr. Omotade suggested that he was resisting deportation. But, if you have contrary information, please inform me. Nevertheless, this incident was sparked by one man's simple request for a fellow human being to be unshackled. Whatever crime he committed, it doesn't change the fact that fellow passengers felt sorry for him and one tried to help make his trip to Nigeria more comfortable. I do not see that as being a bad thing nor a crime. But, I've been wrong before and am always open to correction.

A member of the BASSA union stopped by Nigerian Curiosity and raised the possibility of a perceived security risk being the reason why 136 Nigerians were removed from the flight just as you have mentioned. But here is my question to you Tininu, if you were sitting in coach, and were told to leave the flight simply because you were of Nigerian origin, would you feel that things were fine and dandy? Even if you didn't question the treatment of the deportee or the removal of Mr. Omotade, but were just an observer? And, please note that I used the word 'question' and not confrontation because from all reports of this story, none have suggested that anyone was belligerent or confrontational. I can only assume that people became that way once they were forcibly removed from the flight and if that was the case, I daresay it is understandable.

As to deportation laws, Britain like any other independent nation state has the right to deport individuals that have broken its laws. Mr. Omotade, like any British citizen, has the freedom of speech to question the treatment of any human being on British territory. The removed Nigerian passengers have a God-given right to become upset and in turn question why Mr. Omotade was removed from the flight. Unfortunately, Brutish Airway does not have the right to discriminate against Nigerians simply on the basis of their national origin or heritage. Nobody does. But, I understand that things might work differently over there in Jolly old England and that certain circumstances might have caused a curtailment of human rights and requirements of decency towards paying passengers.

Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. Varying perspectives always help broaden the terms of any discussion and the enlighten all participants. And, as was the case with Beauty, I will simply repeat, with no sarcasm intended, enjoy your trips with the Brutes. After all you work hard for your money and can spend it as you please. But, as for me and my house, we have chosen to stand against the maltreatment of Nigerians and hope that Brutish Airways will take the time to consider this incident and take the necessary steps to prevent such open discrimination, disrespect and maltreatment from happening again.
I'm putting my family's money where my sometimes big mouth is.

Beauty said...

@ Tininu has restored my faith in his comment by coming out with the way things work here in the UK. It is the rule of law! This is how it is in the UK and regardless of people's sentiments of foul play.

BAA was bought by a consortium led by Ferrovial, the Spanish construction company in 2006 and as such owns and run the airports. The laws are simple and has been compounded by the Islamic terrorist problems and as such, the rules are not people led.

I love you Solomonsydelle and not just for your looks (I don't think I have had the pleasure even though it would be great). I also love your use of the word "OPEN". Open to hearing, I also strive for.

="Whatever crime he committed, it doesn't change the fact that fellow passengers felt sorry for him and one tried to help make his trip to Nigeria more comfortable."= is the job for BA, they are the ones that should engage the transport police and the immigration officials. It may not be perfect but it is fair that several departments within the UK Home Office (Internal Affairs Ministry) do their jobs and any protests will be taken up in a civil manner.

Your Q; ="But here is my question to you Tininu, if you were sitting in coach, and were told to leave the flight simply because you were of Nigerian origin, would you feel that things were fine and dandy?"= does sound harsh and I don't have an answer to that but I will not use profanity in order for you to take notice of my dissatisfaction with the question.

Also your ="Mr. Omotade, like any British citizen, has the freedom of speech to question the treatment of any human being on British territory."= is incorrect. You see, Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, airline security increased dramatically at all airports.

""When you buy a ticket to travel on any flight we operate, you enter into a contract of carriage with us. The contract is governed by: our regulations, Our right to refuse to carry you or to ban you from travel.""


Newsflash 7 Apr 2008. The British Airline Pilots’ Association published an Open Letter to city institutions and to the Government calling for a change in how British Airways is managed. ==""Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of BALPA said: “We have quietly gone about our jobs since the Terminal 5 debacle, but pilots can no longer stay silent. It is their company’s reputation that is on the line and their futures. BA management has taken its eye off the ball and it is time UK plc held them to account.”""

This brings me back to the who should be held accountable question? @Tininu did that in his comments.

thank you for connecting in conversation. love always.

Tininu said...

this is meant to be the offical statement released by BA reported on THIS DAY newspaper

rume said...

i think all of this is simply our fault, we have all refused to develop our country to the best levels, we all that we have we are unable to pregress. even ghana has overtaken us. soon togo and the rest would do the same. sadly thats what comes of a nation of evil leaders who are only interested in stealing money and oil, with crooks like former govt official ibori, what can one expect. its bad enough that the western world simply sees us as thieves. all of which can not end with our painfully slow president. at least he isnt as fast as the formal croooooooooookstar. sadly we will never get respect the way it is, so the options are go back home or stay, one way or the other its not particularly good to call out that u are a nigerian in some places. best of luck to all.

by Rume

Helen Hunt said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd add my 2 pence worth.

First, I don't believe that the alleged incident actually happened as described in your post. And if it did happen, I would attribute it to the way the whole world sees your people that led to that level of shabby and disrespecting treatment that those guys were subjected.

Again, the tone of the comments left by your readers and yourself also highlights some of the problems you guys need to address - you're very quick to play the race card everytime things like these happen. I, for one see Nigerians as rude, loud, materialistic, deceitful and have no respect for the rule of law. You may disagree and remove this comment, but the trust must be said. Image is everything in this world and you guys lack it am afraid.

I've worked with a few Nigerians over the years, and almost all of them displayed all the typical attitudes I listed above.

Besides, another reason why no one has any respect for Nigeria/Nigerians is that your image across the world is nothing to write home about.
A quick question: do you think this sort of incident could happen to any other nationals while their government say nothing about it ???

Good luck,

Isabella said...

Hmmmm I just thought these were rumours!!!

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