PERCEPTOR 38: Questions On Arik’s ‘Fly the Sweaty Skies’ Policy
“By doubting we come to question, and by questioning, we perceive the truth.”
(Peter Abelard, 1079-1142)
6 Questions on Arik’s ‘Fly the Sweaty Skies’ Policy
Perceptor knows that there is a bit of jealousy about Arik and the way it burst on the Naija aviation scene with its brand new ‘tear rubber’ planes and then just growed and growed until no corner of the country, sub-region, continent or indeed the globe has been left untouched by the ‘Wings of Nigeria’. Where did all that money come from, people wondered. (And can I get some of it?) So when the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria gave some lesser airlines marching orders to get out of the General Aviation Terminal leaving Arik practically in charge there, the mutterings too growed and growed, and Arik had to take out full page newspaper adverts to rebut complaints of favouritism.
Frankly Perceptor doesn’t think it was even reasonable for other airlines to insist that Arik should come and join them in the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 when there isn’t enough space even for them. Even greedy Bi-Courtney should know that the visually (or just plain intellectually) challenged individuals who are still claiming that MMA2 is a ‘state of the art’ airport would soon sing a different tune if the Arik hordes were to descend on its mediocre facilities.
Perceptor doesn’t even care where the money Arik was set up with came from, but recently, Perceptor has begun to notice a disturbing trend on the Wings of Nigeria. It goes like this: the passengers get into the plane, and the more it fills up, the more uncomfortably hot they become. By the time the plane is full, everybody on board is sweating profusely in the all-enveloping heat. An announcement is made that Arik apologises for the discomfort caused by the non-functioning air-conditioning but assuring passengers that once they are airborne, the temperature will drop to a more comfortable level.
On a recent Arik flight, Perceptor did not find this reassuring. And Perceptor was apparently not the only one who was more disquieted than calmed, because as soon as the plane was airborne (i.e. once it was too late to get down), one of the passengers started praying loudly for the aircraft’s safe arrival. Now Perceptor is as ready to trust in the Almighty as the next man, but honestly, at 30,000 feet, the image of a plane “saturated in the blood” of JC is not the picture that Perceptor wants to focus in the search for mental equilibrium and calm as the flight bounces around the air pockets over Naija.
You will not be surprised, dear reader, to learn that as the plane cooled off up there, questions began to form in Perceptor’s head. Or that by the time the plane started descending and landing (phew!) and getting hotter and sweatier and more uncomfortable all over again the closer we all got to Mother Earth, those questions had crystallized …
1. Was that the same plane that one Sandra Obiago travelled in from Lagos to Benin in December last year?
This lady, who was not ashamed to tell us in an article that she published under the heading “When Will We Be Hot Enough?”that her fellow passengers called her a ‘mad woman’ because when she found herself in another plane with faulty air-conditioning for her return journey to Lagos, she demanded to see the pilot before anybody could disembark, reported that even the pilots came out of the cockpit sweating, leaving her to worry about what would happen if they should faint from the heat! What Perceptor wants to know is – was Obiago just unlucky to catch the same plane twice, or was it another plane? More importantly, why, if there was one plane or two planes with ‘malfunctioning air-conditioning’ in the Arik fleet in December last year, why are there still planes with m.a-c. in March this year? And if it isn’t the same plane, is it a serial problem with Arik planes so that when one stops having the problem another takes over?
2. If it is the same plane, why is it still flying in that condition?
Can Perceptor be frank? Perceptor doesn’t think it is the same plane. Perceptor thinks that all Arik’s planes are exhibiting the same symptoms. But if it IS the same plane, why don’t they FIX IT?
3. Could it be that Arik has been given some kind of dispensation by Nigeria’s civil aviation authorities to sweat its passengers at ground level?
Perceptor knows that Arik is a bit of a favourite son, as the NCAA seems to be sitting idly by while it descends into Chanchangi-dom (you know, the plane starts moving while passengers are still standing up and looking for a seat and somewhere to put their hand luggage but without an interesting name) but this one of no air-con has passengers coming out of the planes mopping their faces and with their clothes soaked in sweat. Since Perceptor refuses to believe that the NCAA workers are so un … er, unperceptive, that they didn’t notice, the only other explanation is that Arik must have been given permission to turn off the a-c.
4. Because otherwise, why would Arik be allowed to be operating the ‘fly the sweaty skies’ policy for so long?
Even if the NCAA and FAAN are turning a blind eye, it still begs the question: Why? Perceptor means, it can’t possibly be because they’ve got friends in high places, can it?
5. Is it because Arik is just trying to save money – on fuel for example – or is it that they can’t fix the problem?
6. If saving money, why? Where else might they be cutting corners?
Obviously Perceptor isn’t talking about the provision of stale cake and lukewarm fruit juice to its overheated passengers: that’s standard for Arik and of course the juice is going to be lukewarm when the plane is the next best thing to Hades … No, what Perceptor is wondering (and worrying about) is whether money is being saved and corners cut at the business part of the aviation business, you know, the stuff that gets you safely up, keeps you safely up, and brings you safely down …
Cash and Carry
Perceptor is ready to volunteer. Perceptor understands that a certain Governor still has a lot of extra cash to distribute to build up the momentum for his inevitable victory at the forthcoming polls and what Perceptor is saying is that Perceptor is ready to accept it.
Perceptor is ready to accept this Governor’s money because Perceptor has decided that it is worth pretending to be brave if it means that Perceptor can get the money. Why, you ask gentle reader, does it take bravery to accept this Governor’s money? Simple! When this Governor gives out money (from the goodness of his heart obviously. Or to ensure his victory at the forthcoming etc.), when he gives out money, bad things seem to happen to the people he gives it to. Last year, it was the money he gave to some journalists that resulted in their being kidnapped. Now his attempt to distribute ordinary N15 million led to the death of five students!
So because this dismal record must (surely?) be making people shun this Governor and his money, Perceptor is ready to volunteer to accept it. Because definitely with that history, nobody will want to accept this Governor’s money. Will they?
Olusegun Obasanjo: An Apology
In common with most other commentators, Perceptor may have given the impression that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was a devious proponent of the worst kind of do-or-die politics and hobnobbing with warlords and dubious characters of every kind in pursuit of his ambition to exercise continued sway over all political affairs in Naija, and may even have criticised him for not going into quiet retirement to count his, er … books. (For his Presidential Library now! Haba, reader, your mind is too suspicious. Perceptor cannot imagine why!)
Perceptor now realises that ex-President Obasanjo is in fact a complete innocent abroad, and a God-fearing man to whom you need only mention the words ‘church’ and ‘thanksgiving’ for him to lose all critical faculties such as thinking, memory and facial recognition. In apologising for any confusion that may have been caused by his apparent predilection for hob-nobbing with known criminals, Perceptor wishes to emphasize that … (Cont’d on p. 2011)
The PDP: An Apology
In common with most other commentators, Perceptor may have given the impression that the Peoples Democratic Party was a political party, an organisation formed for the purpose of securing the votes of Nigerians at elections, and as such, might be prone to the kind of bad behaviour and misconduct that political parties have been known to indulge in in the attempt to secure the said votes.
Perceptor now realises that the PDP is in fact an Assembly of Saints. In the circumstances it was quite out of place, and even an insult to its saintliness, to expect it to subscribe to a mere ‘Code of Conduct’ about how it would behave in regard to the April 2011 elections as though the icons who make up that great Assembly would not know how to distinguish between government resources in running their political campaigns, or ... Indeed, Perceptor and everybody else ought to have known that no undertaking could ever possibly have been necessary, since doing the right thing (winning) in the right way (by any and every means available) comes naturally to the exemplars and role-models of this greatest party in Africa and that all other political parties can only dream of achieving its saintliness, probity, kind-heartedness, friendliness (cont’d on p. 2011)
I was misquoted
*The IMF: The International Monetary Fund was misquoted when it said that Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, should be devalued. All that its representative in Naija, Scott Rogers, said was that the CBN should be ‘flexible’ about the exchange rate …
*Abba-Aji: The Presidential Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters was misquoted when he said that he would advise the President not to sign the Freedom of Information Bill if the Senate ‘makes the same mistake’ as the House of Representatives and passes the FOI Bill. Readers may recall that last blog, Perceptor wondered whether Abba-Aji was confused about the different types of oath in which he (and possibly his principal) might have been involved. But now it turns out that it was the reporters who were confused.