Arik Air & The Black List: Of victims, bloggers, ironies and paradoxes

Published:27 Sep, 2012

In the Land of many victims, the man who dares the oppressor is seen to be mad. For that, I admit my madness.

I left my iPad in an Arik Air flight and that was my fault. I will not excuse that negligence on the fact that flying just days after the Dana crash I was still gripped by its horror. What is not my fault though is the fact that when I returned for the iPad, the Arik Air staff in charge of “Lost & Found” left to check the aircraft and came back saying “they said they found it and put it in your bag.” My response was sharp and simple. How did they match an untagged iPad that was not checked in with a bag that was checked in and tagged? Who gave them the permission to open my bag for them to put the iPad? I asked to make a written complaint but the Arik Air staff, Lanre, said that by speaking to him my complaint process had been completed, that there was no need to write anything. That did not go down well with me. Some have focused on the first part of the issue about why I’d forget my iPad in a plane, they conveniently ignore the part about the Arik Air staff saying they found the iPad and put it in my bag. Someone have even questioned why I’d even forget my iPad in the first place. These are angels and aliens who have never forgotten a thing in their lives. I am human and I forget, not to mention the fact that in about 35 flights this year, that was a first.

I hate to admit it but I live in a country where people have lived with being victims for decades, victimization has become the culture. Rather than take on their oppressors, many Nigerians are still counting on the day God would come down and personally take on that challenge. Here, people never see the principle behind anything, as most things are weighed in naira. For people of principle, my issue with Arik Air had stopped being about an iPad long ago, but for those whose only valuation of life and the decisions they make come from naira and kobo perception, this remains about an iPad and I needed to shut up because “it is only an iPad.” In the end, these are victims of years of oppression, people who have never stood for themselves, people who’d rather adjust to bullies but are now experts on how to treat oppressors. That in itself is normal because I come from a society of many paradoxes.

I do not have a problem with bloggers who would create any fiction out of this to get hits. Many have become the anomaly they report. I once saw a story about Nigeria’s First Lady concerning the Black Sunday plane crash. I knew from the word go it’d be a hit story but I refused to publish it because I could not see the possibility of its content being the truth even though it’d put the First Lady in bad light. Some others did publish and got their hits. For these ones, it is not about the society, it is about their blogs. The hits first, other things second.

Arik Air is yet to say a thing about this officially apart from their desperate Black List, but they have indeed been talking. They are speaking by proxy. A lot of those acting like they are giving personal opinion are indeed doing their job. You know personal opinion when you see one but when you see someone seemingly speaking his or her opinion, yet repeatedly attacks my person and repeatedly seeks amplification for same, it is hard to see that as opinion. Social Media is on the front burner and I am absolutely certain I helped a few people earn some money just by creating a need to defend a company. I only hope the pay is worth it because standing for my own rights has been worth it.

At the end of the day, I have done something few people have ever dared. Given the chance, I’d do it again! When the story is told, no one will remember the multi-coloured friends or the analysis, they will remember the ordinary man who stood against an organisation that even the government of the day had to let go. Rosa Parks was called names by fellow black men who felt her stand to sit when she could have stood up, walked away and avoid trouble was avoidable. There are iconoclasts and the strength of their reality is that they get to do what others never had the capacity to think about, let alone think possible.

I muted in a blog I’d seek a N50 million damage. It is my iPad and my content. It is my right and my prerogative. I never sought the damage but it has become the major line of the long abused victim who wonders how a man could first dare to go against the same people they in their normal state of being victims have learnt to bow to and then go a step further to even contemplate asking for that much. I never asked for that but yes, if I did, it’d be in order.

In the Land of many victims, the man who dares the oppressor is seen to be mad. I am mad.
When Arik Air was called out on their over N84 billion debt by the authorities, they never argued about the content and essence of the issues, instead, they chose to blackmail the minister of aviation Stella Oduah and diverted many from the issue. In a country where many have learnt to chase shadows, diversionary tactics have always been the tools of people who are accused of one crime or the other. It is a tactic perfected by huge debtors and serial tax defaulters. Who best fits the description than one of the subjects of this issue?

Isn’t it also ironic that the same people who heard about the issue being with Consumer Protection Council for over two months without anything to show for it would now advise me to go to court. In a country where justice resides in the court of law, that’d be a natural channel to have justice now but in a country where court judgements are for sale, I’d rather not bother. I will find justice elsewhere because I don’t have N84 billion to bribe judges from and even if I did have, I’d rather justice comes to the fore without bribe incentives. This is would be the anomaly in an average court and I am not about to pretend about it.

I stood for myself and my rights, not just as a citizen but as a consumer, most of those have been beaten into the victim mentality they will always see that as an affront on the norm they have come to accept as the preferable reality.
I have been put on a Black List by Arik Air along with some 25 others including a managing director with one of the industry regulators. That illegality was not communicated even though Arik Air conveniently collected my money last week for a flight and have since not refunded. In trying to board them last week, I had my agent book me on another flight. My attempt to board their flight was my own way of fueling the issue all over again. I knew I was never going to be allowed to fly. The Black List has only just changed the hue of the issue all over again and we will indeed be on this for a while. I am not a victim, I am a fighter and no man alive would cheat me and have an easy ride doing so. Never! That they can abuse and manipulate the system does not mean they will successfully do that with me. I am but one small, ordinary citizen but I will show that sometimes, being seemingly small is not being definitely weak.

“In our quest for justice, we will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail”

~ @omojuwa

  • modupe

    Hmmmmmm……a word of thoughts.hope arik’s md gets to read dis nd make al necessary ammends.@omojuwa;I so much enjoy ur fight 4 justice

  • TeniolaTJTonade

    Weldone, Japh. The rightness of a cause is in itself the hope for it’s accomplishment. Still, fellow Nigerians, a louder noise is required against this oppressive enterprise.

  • tosyn (naijarevolts)

    @omojuwa Ride on in this fight. ARik is only surprised that an individual can stand so much on what he believes in. The average Nigerian would have chickened out but u re persistent for what u know is right and just. if at least 10million Nigerians can think this way, our nation will be a better place to live

  • babe

    Shame on arik

  • Gideon Oladepo

    I’d not been interested in the Omojuwa V. Arik Air case until this blanket ban on him and other commentators by the airline. With this article, I now have a clearer picture. It’s a pity that we are in a society where even the government is held to ransom: is it in line with our constitution that a public carrier, like Arik, could decide whom to serve and whom not to. The allegation against the Minister by the airline should not have been swept under the carpet in a saner clime. It’s either the Minister is sanctioned, if Arik can prove it or the airline be made to face the music, if it had made the allegation recklessly. Whichever way someone should have answered for such a grave allegation that impugns on the integrity of a Federal Minister. But with the ban placed on certain individuals and some officials of its regulatory agencies, is Arik Air not showing Nigerians, it’s above the law?

  • Bola Wahab

    Mosquito is so small, but try sleeping with it in same room.the Article is well written,for those who have brains!! Enough of leaving everything to God,there are r things We need to fight by ourself.Don’t give in to bullies.

  • @mexim

    More power to you bro. Proud of you.

  • Timi

    I support..we must continue to fight for our rights and make the change in our society.

  • yomi

    Oh! What an article! There are so many oppressed individuals out there who because of the fear of the unknown has remained silent and subsequently die in silence. Pls ride on God ll give u the strength to tackle these selfish oppressors. There are so many cases similar to yours that went unreported. there is a popular saying that ” if u believe the world is justly created by God, and u found urself to be unjustly abused in a justly world, then fight for ur right justly before u meet the justly God. Because the justly God shall ask u what u did when were unjustly treated.” wish all the best in ur justly cause.

  • ibrahim Amina Ilamosi

    The greatest form of Jihad in the sight of Allah is for an individual to stand against a leader who is an oppressor…. Your piece is very well understood,and hopefully people will come here to learn a thing or two… I learnt.

  • CathyZeta

    How many of these presumed people supporting this ur cause would reject an arikair flight ticket booked for them? The truth is none, some would even become cautious so dey don’t get blacklisted too. I think you should go to court, and then if it turns to an issue of bribe u fight a bigger battle that would have more effect on the nation as a whole.
    PS I think Rosa park refused to go to the back seat, you should have refused to get off the plane and disrupt the flight as a whole. :)

  • Ayodeji Lancaster

    Beautiful piece. Give it to them Bro. This is the beginning of a great revolution. Don’t give up… I, and other sane Nigerians are solidly behind you and if we need to Occupy Arik, I’m down for anything like a USB.

  • yeti

    Well said JJ,people who will stand up against oppressors is the only real hope for us as a nation.May God continue to strenghtened you.

  • omar mohd salihi

    omojuwa, what u displayed above is mentality that nigerians need to develop. lets say enof is enof to the maltreatin and oppression of the weak. are we even weak? ‘no’ we arent. and we will never be. omojuwa we will stand by you no matter wat it takes.

  • Precious

    I am so proud of you! Words can’t describe just how much.Lots of pple are currently wishing they had stood up for their own abused & violated rights in the past.
    You have proved Nigerians deserve quality services but the average ‘myopic’ Nigerian youth would hide on Twitter & insult u. We know U’re an inspiration.Stay in our prayers

  • Mimi

    Omojuwa I don’t know you neither do I ff your blog or you on twitter and I doubt I will now but I STAND WITH YOU on this. This is pure madness and I’m glad you used your ffers and voice to air out this grievance. I don’t and can never fly Arik because I cherish customer service above everything; maybe its because I lived abroad or was a customer servive operator for many yrs but I know my rights. You should be compensated or giving a better explanation because your ipad was stolen. Is there a leave at owners risk policy? Honestly I’m too upset by this stupidity displayed by Arik.
    Thank you for fighting and showing Nigerians they have rights- it starts small but least its started.

  • Aniekan

    I agree with you, we need to stand up for our rights lest our silence and understanding in matters be considered a weakness.

  • Jonathan Akeme

    If you ever change your mind to seek redress in Court, I Jonathan Akeme, Esq.hereby undertake to be on the legal team FOR FREE. The man dies in him who is silent in the face corporate tyrany. I’m solidly behind you in the quest to seek justice from the ‘witchy’ wings that steal one’s belongings even in the sky. Japhet Omojuwa: Omo juwon lo!

  • Pep

    I’m a Christian, the Bible says turn your left cheek when slapped on the right. But the Bible is silent on what to do when the person has guts to slap you on both cheeks. This is a slap on both cheeks and to be silent is simply stupid. You may realise you’re alone in this fight, but remember they’ve done their worst, you still have a lot of jokers up your sleeve. Scream if you have to, those who have ears will definitely hear you. You cannot afford to swallow this ‘as usual’

  • amon_Ra_G

    This issue got me looking for opressors lol, someone who would just slightly trample on my rights. I’m not perfect but certain things should never be allowed to slide.
    Maybe we should take it to the next level and speakout against the government, that’s a start.

  • D. Cent

    Its about time we collectively and individually take a stand in this country, against injustice and oppression. Arik Air via their Chaairman are chronic debtors to this nation via CBN and other agencies of Govt like FAAN etc. These are emergency billions that emerged through the oppressive aand fraudulent systems created by Nigerian Govt to divert our collective resources to a few hands who inadvertently turn round to lord it over all of us. Its a shame and we must all rise up and take a stand against this oppression! With @omojuwa we stand!

  • Adesoji

    Thank you for writing your own story again and again.

  • bukola

    I admire your courage n frankly speaking I thank and respect you for speaking out now and for other times that you have,I have seen some of your write ups on facebook and on some friends pages I only recently started followin you on twitter because Arik air decided to blacklist you. I do believe we should stand up for our fights enough of being a spectator. Thank you for a being a mentor.

  • Paschal Oge Chikeroh

    Fantastic! This battle if won by Omojuwa, is our victory. Customer Must Be KING in Nigeria!

  • Folashade Tope Ige

    Infact,you have said the minds of many oppressed nigerians.
    We have so many ills going on around us it our environment.workplace,families etc.
    We all can’t be the same,reason why someone like omojuwa will fight for his right at all times.right thinking nigerians are behind youm
    This is an unfinished fight ARIK AIR take note

  • Timi

    You would have ordinarily thought maybe they blacklisted this people cos they deemed them suicide bombers or something dangerous, but with this well written article we see that this case is not one that should be taken with complacency but one that all Nigerians with a democratic and positive sense of good governance should embrace and use it as a platform to make sure that no body, public or private, take you for a ride or joke with your rights. @omojuwa: people are behind you.

  • temitope

    I admire ur courage @omojuwa.its high time we took our stand both individually n collectively against consumer rights infringement in Nigeria. Trust me, u re not alone on this.I know that by d time pushes become shoves, more pple will speak up. It ll create d ripple effect of ur crusade.

  • Flight Master

    Hi Folks,

    since discussions erupted against Arik air, nobody could address the core issue of bribes culture in Nigeria that already had eaten up the national flag carrier of Nigeria and now focusing on Arik Air. Domestic flights issues at Arik Air management was a tough time which has been now resolved and again it was nothing but a fake blame on the the airline for not paying aviation fees and charges to the airport and federal duties in govt treasury or may be it was a black mailing to the booming Arik Air from local authorities for cick back money to get approved for certain tenders and availabilities of airport premises while Arik air remained reluctant to feed such idiots belly with the real money of its consumers and trustees. Now 19 Senat cabinet committee coined the suggesstion to approve the Arik Air as national flag carrier till the Aviation come up with solutions to Air Nigeria which has been gone bank corrupt and grounded, even its IATA certification has been suspended.

    I would recommend consumers to not soak about Arik air but take a serious notice about authorities that cannot afford any noticeable and remarkable business entity in Nigeria. Corruption is the haul mark of our every failour .

  • http://yahoo Enatto Zikra

    I for one is not surprise at stand taken by Arik airline. My cousin was one of their victim and in her own case, she was one of their staff. Her only offence was standing up against one of their offensive “corporate policies” she was sacked. Since then the air line lost one customer, ME. But i must say the problem isnt with Arik alone most of these private owned companies be they banks, telecoms industries and some government parast are shockingly rude when it comes to offering simple basic customer services. Its a pity that in Nigeria the customer is treated like a begger.

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