Japheth Omojuwa: How Arik Air, Nigeria’s Notorious Airline Chose to Fight Me Dirty

There are many ways to know a brand that’d last and a brand that’d not outlast those who used public money to set it up. A brand that’d last knows never to have its name in the mud and it does everything to avoid that or wash itself clean when it finds itself in the mud. For a brand that gets its money from the deprivation of a people by a looting class, for a brand that survives on the flow of corrupt money and cronyism, nothing matters because its business survival is dependent on injustice and corruption and such brands will not hesitate to play the game that way because they’d always survive where survival is of the big thieves. Big thieves come and go, so such brands eventually die because their big thieves get to go.

Yesterday, I discovered a new low in brand reputation. I had gone to the Abuja airport to catch a 5pm flight to Lagos. Everything went smoothly until a certain realization dawned on the airline billed to carry me. The issue with Arik Air started on the 16th of June. I had left my ipad in an Abuja to Lagos flight. I returned to collect the ipad and was told by a staff of Arik Air called Lanre that my ipad had been found and put in my bag. This was his stance and he said it repeatedly despite my arguments about the fact that my ipad was not tagged and could not have been matched with any bag not to mention the fact that whatever bag they said they put it in needed the owner’s permission. Had I been told that my ipad was nowhere to be found, we’d not be here today but they said they put it in my bag.

To the average Nigerian, used to being maltreated by big men and being deprived of his and her rights, this would have been a dead case by now. In a country where people suffer the worst of abuse and just move on, one man taking on an airline seems the outlier especially over “just an ipad”. Fortunately though, this is not about one man. The story of my ipad has since become the story of a generation’s quest for justice and justice or nothing. Apart from being obviously known as an airline, Arik Air is also regarded as the airline that commands the highest rate of airborne theft in Nigeria. Ipads, wedding rings, hard currencies, Galaxy Tabs regularly disappear on Arik Air flights. It is a known reality that, if you value your good, never fly Arik with it. I have since taken my quest for justice to the right quarters. The case has been with the Consumer Protection Council since the 4th of July. As I write, nothing has been done. I have spent time talking about the issue on Twitter and on this blog. The issue has also found its way into dailies and other blogs and websites. If all of the previous things that happened between myself and Arik Air served as the foundation, yesterday’s incident looks like the first block of what would be in my conviction a fight that’d last for as long as justice is lost in this case. I will fight until I get the justice this deserves.

Arik Air’s Executive had sent an email across to Abuja to ensure I was never checked in to fly having booked a ticket to Lagos from Abuja for yesterday 19th September and a return for the following Saturday. An email was sent across on Tuesday to Abuja to Arik Air staff members to make sure I was not allowed to check in let alone even fly. I had worn my #ArikWhereIsMyipad branded T shirt and booked the flight through an agent with my real names. That was why they knew I was flying in the first place. I checked in without drama and even I was shocked. I was privy to the order the previous day. Unsurprisingly though, my tweets had apparently alerted them. I tweeted a picture of my boarding pass and the shirt together (pictured here) and within minutes the airport’s public address system was buzzing with my name. The announcement was that a certain Japheth Omojuwa traveling on Arik flight bla bla please report to the Arik counter. I did and met with an expatriate who introduced himself as though he was about to usher me into a flight and a tall Nigerian security who did the same thing. They were awkwardly courteous. They said they had orders from Lagos to stop me from flying. The expatriate said they’d refund my money and asked if I had anything to say. I said nothing and just waited to collect my previously checked in bag. I was on my way to Lagos to meet with strategists helping to work on the New Media Philanthropy projects that has seen Nigerians help contribute money to fellow citizens suffering from terminal citizens. That was unfortunately cut off but my Lagos Thursday and Friday schedules are very much intact.

I will not be taking all these lying low. #ArikWhereIsMyipad never really started because it was much more about reporting what was happening on the ipad issue than it was about a campaign to place Arik Air where it truly belonged – a place where it is globally renowned for what it truly is…a thieving unreliable, irresponsible, shameless, dirty and cronyistic brand that is here today because a national carrier Nigeria Airways was killed just so Arik Air would buy its properties and what was left of it. Only yesterday, Nigerian senators mooted a plan to have Arik Air become the national carrier. That would not be a surprise to have an airline mostly known for lost goods become the national carrier for a country mostly known for lost dreams. The ones who steal the goods and the dreams are indeed one and the same. I have saved my dreams from these ones and I am going to save my good or live trying…no matter how long, hard, tough or whatever it takes. This is a battle I am ready to fight. It matters not if 160 million people choose to be raped and abused by a few, I’d never allow anyone of these ones to cheat me over N1. Arik Air will be my example. Whether the Nigerian justice system takes justice to Arik Air or Arik Air as usual finds its way around Nigeria’s justice system, Justice, in its karmic and devastating way will be done. This is the intro…

 

 

Japheth Omojuwa can be found on Twitter as @Omojuwa