Global Shame…Tale of a Stranded Corpse and Frustrated Nigerians on International Flights

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Global Shame…Tale of a Stranded Corpse and Frustrated Nigerians on International Flights

Global Shame…Tale of a Stranded Corpse and Frustrated Nigerians on International Flights
February 19
09:50 2020

If there ever were an avatar for shamelessness and inefficiency, Nigeria would fit snugly into it. A Nigerian who was bringing home his father’s corpse from Atlanta for burial had his Emirate Airline flight rerouted to Ghana due to bad weather conditions and what Nigerian aviation authorities would later admit was poor Instrument Landing System (ILS).

Marooned, literally, in Ghana,  he frantically sought a solution but the Ghanaian authorities denied him bringing a corpse into their country. All the while, the airline was equally making attempts to enter the Nigerian airspace without luck. The inclemency of the weather persisted. When there was no reprieve in sight, he followed his father’s corpse back to Atlanta, foreclosing, perhaps, any hope of bringing it to Nigeria again.

If Oduntan’s case reminds one of Fela’s classic, ‘Double Wahala for Deadi Bodi’, the fate of many other passengers on several Lagos-bound international airlines has no bearing to anything existential. Several otherwise watertight plans have been scuttled by the inefficiency of a government. Fola Olatunji-David, a technology entrepreneur whose February 11 flight to Lagos was diverted, says British Airways has not made provisions to take them back to Nigeria after initial promises to do so.

“We landed in Accra on Tuesday night and they kept stringing us along. They kept changing the time, saying, ‘We will leave at 11 pm, we will leave at 2 pm’ but we are still here,” he said in reference to British Airways, in an interview with CNN. Olatunji-David and other passengers have been in Accra for about three days, waiting for flights back to Lagos. He says many flights are fully booked, making it difficult to secure tickets back home. “The airline became culpable when they left us to find our way home. There are minors on this flight, pregnant women, people who are now forced to get home on their own,” he added.

Expectedly, there has been understandable outrage as many international flights, particularly, the British Airways and Emirates Airlines bound for the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, have had to be diverted to neighbouring countries like Ghana and Senegal as they could not land while Abuja was not deemed adequate by the airlines. Some other airlines had to re-schedule or cancel flights into Lagos.

Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, said that the federal government had procured equipment that allows for the lowest visibility landing but the malfunctioning of some components delayed the installation. “We wish to let the public know that the authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos were in the process of replacing the old Category 2 Instrument Landing Systems with the newly procured Category 3 system that allows for the lowest visibility landing.

“Unfortunately, there was a malfunctioning of certain components, which, coupled with the unforeseen weather conditions, made landing at the airport difficult. The procurement of the Category 3 Instrument landing System is in pursuance of the desire of the Federal Government to ensure the safety of air passengers by ensuring that airplanes can land with almost zero visibility.

“We wish to assure the public and the airlines that efforts are on to return the system to full working condition and that normalcy of operations will be re-established in due course.”

Sirika was, however, peeved by the diversion of some international flights to neighbouring countries, saying, “We wish to reiterate that the decisions are purely those of the airlines which we have no control over. However, it should be noted that those flights could, and should have been rerouted to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja which is shorter or equidistant from Lagos to the foreign airports to which some of the flights have been diverted.”

He concluded that in recognition of Abuja as an alternate airport, Qatar Airlines has applied to divert its flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, to which he said he granted immediate approval.

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