Nigerian Airports Hell —Lawmakers


Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly believe nothing else compares to hell like the airports in Nigeria.

The lawmakers who raised an alarm over the poor state of the nation’s airports, especially the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in the state, also gave nauseating accounts of what passengers go through while boarding flights.

They said they were not surprised that other countries could treat Nigerian air passengers with disdain, stressing that such countries know about the kind of inhuman treatment Nigerian citizens undergo at Nigerian airports and in the hands of airline workers.

One of the prime movers of a motion which called on all the authorities concerned to immediately put the airports in order to save Nigeria some shame in the comity of nations, Olarenwaju Oshun, narrated that several times, he had been provoked by staff of the MMIA airport who do not see passengers as important to the running of airline businesses.

According to him, the actions of especially of the international airlines against Nigerians are debasing and not in consonance with human dignity as stipulated in the Nigerian constitution.

Oshun said though flights from Nigeria to London takes the same six hours that it takes from London to America, the fares are not comparable as it is more expensive to travel from Nigeria to London than from London to the U.S.

Another lawmaker, Sanai Agunbiade, said every passenger arriving the MMIA has the opinion he is arriving hell.

“You move into the arrival hall, you move into hell. The air conditioning machines are not working, the customs officers are not friendly, you see most of the counters empty and Nigerians would have to queue almost queuing to the brim.

“Right from the arrival hall, there would be arguments and crises and you see people calling and chastising people in government and of course, you cannot talk because of what you are,” he said, adding that this worrisome and that even though the House cannot correct it directly, it can call on the authorities to remember that Nigerians deserve some dignity.

Agunbiade also narrated how he was prevented from travelling to South Africa on official assignment immediately after the World Cup even when he had a multiple entry visa.

“It was not refusing to allow me travel that was worrisome, but the annoying thing was the rude manner that South Africa for that matter treated a Nigerian citizen,” he added.

He said Nigerians, one way or the other, have suffered like that and since they are voiceless, have decided to swallow the experiences.

Ipoola Omisore said most of the international airlines arrive Nigerian airports at unholy hours which is not the case elsewhere.

“But I don’t know how a son of a prodigal person can shout because we used to have the Nigerian Airways which today is dead. You know the number of planes we had then.

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“Of all countries in Africa, only Nigeria has no national airline. I think corruption is the reason Nigerians are suffering and if other countries’ airlines do not treat you well, then go have your own that would treat you well,” Omisore said recounting that he was once shouted at in Libya for complaining over delayed flight, saying the crew asked him to go back home and tell the Nigerians to have their own carriers.

A lawmaker, Gbolahan Yishau, told his colleagues that he was once served burnt rice with other passengers on board an airline and that when they complained, they were told nothing could be done about the situation.

Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji said he was sure the issue was receiving attention at the National Assembly, but said whatever the foreign airlines did to Nigerian passengers actually begin with the shabby treatment on them by Nigerians themselves.

The Speaker asked: “If the air conditioner at the arrival hall of the airport refuses to work, is that the business of the British Airways or Luftansa?

“If we spend billions and our own air planes refuse to fly, is that not against us?

“Rwanda with one of the least population in Africa has its own airline coming into Nigeria now. Charity begins at home.”

He said Nigerians should stop blaming the international airlines and instead focus on the government which had let them down.

He also cited the poor services rendered by telecommunications operators, saying that the country must decide now to get things right.

According to Ikuforiji, “if you are about landing at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, you would see the ugliness created by scraps of aircraft. Where else do you see that?

“It is like mucus have decided to inhabit some of them and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

“For God’s sake why can’t they get rid of this nonsense around us? Do we also need British Airways or Delta Airways to come and do it for us?”

The lawmakers therefore called on the National Assembly, Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and other relevant agencies “to attend to the numerous embarrassing problems in the aviation industry that demean Nigeria as a nation, causing passengers to suffer inhuman and degrading treatment and infringes on the right of an individual to dignity.”

—Eromosele Ebhomele

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