Sunday, September 30, 2012

► NIGERIA: Arik Air uses FAAN debacle to settle old scores.

Arik AirDespite having reached an accord last Saturday with the Nigerian Government that saw Nigeria's now largest carrier Arik Air (W3), resuming domestic operations following 3 days of suspended flights, in addition to Aviation Minister Stella Oduah-Ogiewonyi dropping a lawsuit against Arik Air (who alleged that she had demanded five per cent equity participation in the airline), Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide's airline made their vendetta with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) personal by blacklisting from their flights, the FAAN's Managing Director, George Uriese along with 26 others. 

George Uriese, FAAN
George Uriese, FAAN MD
Those on the list also include alleged drug traffickers, bloggers (Lawal Lateef, Victor-Ogbondah Elo and Obayomi Osoba for insulting Arik staff), terrorists, corrupt ex-employees, people accused of assaulting Arik Air staff, and a disgruntled passenger, Japheth Omojuwa, who was barred “for giving Arik negative publicity on social media after losing his iPad on the airlines flight in June this year”.

Those blacklisted from Arik Air include:
  • Japheth Omojuwa 
  • George Uriesi (FAAN Director)
  • Victor-Ogbondah Elo (for insulting Arik staff)
  • Lawal Lateef (for insulting Arik staff)
  • Obayomi Osoba (for insulting Arik staff)
  • Obiriki James (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Guanah Raymos (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Moulim Buobacal (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Muossa Baba (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Al-Laranma Ibrahim (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Warsame Ahmed Adbukadir (Alleged Somali terrorist)
  • Abdel Rahman Wala Eldin (Alleged Sudanese terrorist)
  • Mohammed Murtada Awad Allad Ahmad (Alleged Sudanese terrorist)
  • Bakare Lanre (former Arik employee over alleged bank fraud)
  • Davies- Fasan Adesola (for fighting with an Arik staff)
  • Ejilasisi Kudirat Abike (declared persona non-grata by UK authorities)
  • Musa Azeez Arisekola (declared persona non-grata by UK authorities)
  • Adesugba Sijuade Adekoya (declared persona non-grata by UK authorities)
  • Oluseye Yakubu Idowu (declared persona non-grata by UK authorities)
  • Olomiwe Peter Chukwu 
  • Nwachukwu Austin
  • Orji Daniel Ikechukwu (over fraud charges in South Africa)
  • Uzoh Himan (over fraud charges in South Africa)
  • Adesanya David
  • Ikukoyi Olufemi Olukay
  • Grace Ikiruka Guobadia

On Thursday last week, workers from various Nigerian aviation unions besieged the offices of the airline pressing for the payments of billions of naira owed to various Nigerian aviation agencies, including the FAAN, disrupting the operations of the airline at the domestic terminal Lagos' Murtala Mohammed International Airport. In protest, Arik Air then ceased all flight operations nationwide, which led to mass cancellations and huge disruptions in the country's aviation sector, until Saturday's watershed meeting with Government.

Arik's latest actions were condemned as being  an "incorrigible and arrogant display of disregard for constituted authority" by Usman  Balarabe, President of the Nigerian Aviation Stakeholders Squaretable who said:
The Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Charles (sic) Uriese, who intervened in the impasse in his official capacity, has now become the target of Arik Air. Their resort to listing the MD alongside accused drug traffickers smacks of vendetta.

Whilst their move act can and does appear to be an act of petty revenge on all and any seen by Arik as having been a thorn in its side at some stage in its past, one compelling truth can be inferred from all of this:

here is a carrier with a now dominant position in the Nigerian aviation market who, following the demise of Air Nigeria in early September, can now wantonly do as it pleases, knowing full well that the Nigerian Government are impotent to stop them. But, if anything, this should act as driving force in the Nigerian Government's rumoured plans to set up a viable national carrier in partnership with a major European carrier (Germany's Lufthansa (LH) and even Turkish Airliens (TK) are said to be possible options), as having a viable second option that is both reliable and safe, would then allow market forces i.e passengers, to punish arrogance and incompetence.

But, until such time comes, and Arik comes up against any real competition, they get to call the shots.