Air peace in a “whitemail” dilemma

Tony Abolo

There are four myths, Chinweizu, an author and a literati identified that we must wake up to, in order to free the African and African descent peoples.

One of them is that the world is Black-FRIENDLY. If Nigerians ever thought that was true, the events of Gatwick London Airport, as Air Peace set out to free Nigeria from the stranglehold of deliberate ‘whitemail’ and patent racism, a week ago, the truth has become crystal clear.

The actions of the British racists all along, was all swallowed as is the DNA of the blackman, in silence and in resignation.

But Barrister Allen Onyema, the Chairman/Managing Director of Air Peace rose to break the jinx of the 6 hours flight between Lagos and London at the humongous cost of 6 million Naira for an Economy Class Flight. A few things had been in contention and others had beclouded Nigerians.

First, it was that from the Buhari Administration, foreign airlines were owed millions of unremitted dollars in airfare monies. This was occasioned by the Country’s dollar cash strapped Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which made it difficult for remittances. Then, in between the regimes, Muhammadu Buhari and President Bola Tinubu, the exchange rate between the dollar and naira had escalated.

In consequence, foreign airlines in order to recover withheld funds and under the pretext of exchange rate issues, overpriced the air travel cost. Nigerians could add on Jet fuel cost which was rising.

The mix was an easy excuse for foreign airlines to play price games, leaving, the hapless Nigerians travellers to fly any airlines at whatever were the fixed rates for economy and business classes.

Nigerians groaned, were angry but neither the Country’s leadership, nor patriotism could come to the rescue.

Happily, two events by a coincidental occlusion happened. Dangote refinery was now producing Jet A1 fuel, and the can do, never die Nigerian patriotic spirit, arose in Barrister Allen Onyema, the CEO of Air Peace took the unusual step of crashing the prices of Lagos – London flight tickets. Business class ticket that sold for N17 million crashed to 4 million Naira, while the Economy class crashed from N6 million to N1.2 million.

The price war which Air Peace had started brought out the bestiality and racist venom out of the British.

In retaliation at the act of Barrister Onyema’s opening the eyes of the Blackman, albeit, the Nigerian, to what was a lie and outright cheating and sheer robbery by the British Airlines and other foreign airlines on the Lagos – London route, foreign airlines scaled down and crashed their prices as well, in order to attract and retain the Nigerian market. This was not all.

According to Dr. Alex Nwuba, the President, Aircraft owners and Pilot Association of Nigeria, in Arise Television interview on 12th April 2024, Air peace got allocated a checking point at the Gatwick Airport that was not so visible, staff at the checking point were ‘instructed to act rude and disrespectfully to the passengers and worst of all, the checking conveyor belt at the Air Peace checking in counter was not functional, which meant that passengers had to find a way to get their luggages smoothly into the aircraft, that is if the ground staff were not up to it.

“People are just adjusting to the reality that there is a new emtrant offering a better pricing option for consumers. And there are many reasons why Air Peace will be cheaper than other carriers.

“Typically, Air line, British Airway and Virgin Airline have always been known to be from the front to the back. That has always been the case. Then, the rest of us who do not want to spend so much money going to Europe and East Africa will go through North Africa to get better fares.

“What Air Peace has done is, enter into a direct market with direct fares instead of going through the secondary route.

“So, all of these inconveniences are lost in the market. Lower fares make it better for Nigerians. It is a direct flight. You do not need to transit through many of these Countries and spend hell out.

“So, there is no fare war. British Airway has always has had its premium fares”, Nwuba said.

More insulting measures were planned against the “temerity” of Air Peace.Clearly only a racist white could react in such rude and insulting manners. Despite the hurdles, the inaugural resumed flights of Air Peace took off. The all Nigerian crew were at their best. And to the glory of God, Air Peace as Dr. Nwuba said in an interview broke through the cordon of white/British racism.

According to him, “The reality is that 50 percent of the people that are going to the UK do not go with British Airway or Virgin Airline or go with a secondary Airline, that is by transit flight that takes 10 to 20 hours. So, there is no price war. There is no fear that Air Peace will be pushed out of the market.

“Nigerians should not be told to support Air Peace because it Nigeria, but, it is saving more money and it means a dorwcr flight. So, patriotism should be to your pocket. That has always been the case.

“It gives gives a more better options to consumers. This is behind the scene, United Nigeria Airline is scheming to go to North America.
“Ibom Airline is doing very well on its regional routes. They have started in Nigeria and they going to Ghana. And maybe expanding to Europe soon.

“Basically for the consumers, there is a greater choice for Nigeria carriers. Those are greater benefits as well”, he said.

Admirably, Nigerians can now make reasonable choices and the Nigerian Government has been advised to back Air Peace on this London route.

Besides Nigeria is being advised through the Aviation Minister, to insist on reciprocity as is, in the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement, BASA agreement and to see that Nigeria is defended even against Emirates Airline as well.

It is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Working Arrangement (WA) and their associated implementing procedures provide for technical cooperation between national civil aviation authorities.

In all of these, there must be valuable takeaways. First, we must recognize racism wherever it is, so that the country and the black man will be defended. Secondly – whenever racism rears its head against the Black man, Nigerians as a nation must stand up to not only defend our race – but also our sovereignty.

In addition, what the Brittons did at Gatwick Airport is not an isolated issue as, we must recognize it for what it is – the white man does not accord the black man the dignity we deserve.

The only way to stem this evil and hatred propensity is to be more vigorous at the diplomatic and international relations front.

An injustice to a black man anywhere, is an affront and injustice everywhere.

Nigerians cannot be pussyfooting on this anywhere from now on. Barrister Allen Onyema has shown that the Black man can stand up against the whites and white racism, in any form it may appear.

There is the parallel behaviour, in our francophone have West African region. The Niger, Mali, Guinea, Bourkina Faso coups were about kicking out the French from their lives and finally being truly sovereign and truly independent.

Nigerians applauded their courage. Onyema has taken one bold step. Can Nigeria as a Nation, follow in his footsteps and let the Journey of a thousand steps begin, so that as the astronaut, Aldrin said, “One small step by man, a giant step for mankind (read, Blackman). We have nothing to loose, but our “Chains” and “undue fear” for the whiteman.

Nigerians can overcome this ‘whitemail’ with our own “Blackmail”. Call it reciprocity, retaliation or what you may, the Blackman must show “them” that passivity and meekness are neither weakness nor foolishness.

Let Nigerians sense of patriotism lead the nation to make bold statements not only at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London, but around the world. It is about time.

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