Connect with us

Anthony Obi Ogbo

Flight KL 588 from Lagos: European airlines’ handling of its African passengers may be racially discriminatory

Published

on

In addition to a high rate of disparity in airfare, these systemic trends that emit prejudice, negligence, and thoughtlessness manifest as racial discrimination in service delivery standards.

The flight booking was the United States-based Delta Airlines, but the routing and services were provided by its partner airline, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the official airline carrier of the Netherlands. Thus, a Delta flight on January 13—originally booked as DL 9477—ended up as KL 588, a return leg originating in Lagos and heading to Houston through Amsterdam. This practice of re-booking flights under other carriers has been standard since 2020, when Air France, KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic launched a partnership to provide customers with more convenient flight schedules, and a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline they fly.

But just like any other European airline, flights originating from North America to Europe are often selective. Aircraft are newer and cleaner, and offer more reliable in-flight entertainment gadgets. They also have cleaner lavatories, and passengers are served fresher meals and provided with well-mannered flight attendants. Additionally, take-off delays are well-justified and are announced to passengers with the utmost respect.

However, once those airlines land at European layover airports, the story changes. Passengers transiting to African cities are hauled into dilapidated, filthy aircraft. Flight attendants may be professional and sometimes welcoming, but the evidence of systemized service shortfalls subjugate every moment. For instance, lavatories are uncared for, in-flight entertainment devices are broken-down, and the aircraft’s seat arrangement offers agonizingly tight leg room. Unprecedented take-off delays are customary, especially with flights originating from African cities to Europe.

Experience of flight KL 588 was a sorry tale of equipment breakdown and service negligence.

Accordingly, the KL 588 flight from Lagos to Amsterdam, filled with Nigerian passengers, was no different. Being a Boeing jet that looks good on the exterior, painted with KLM’s official blue color and logo, there is a mentality that because it is a KLM brand, nothing would ever go wrong. Yet the experience of flight KL 588 was a sorry tale of equipment breakdown and service negligence. The first shocker was a whopping one-hour take-off delay that left passengers seated in a crowded aircraft, grappling with hot cabin air, at a time when the highly infectious omicron variant was spreading like wildfire. Cabin attendants walked around aimlessly—a practice they were seemingly accustomed to.

The next embarrassing moment was an announcement about the nonworking in-flight entertainment system, made by a senior flight attendant, who stated, “We’re going to reboot the system, which should hopefully sort out the problem.” The system was not working at all and the flight attendants knew it, but their unethical lying to passengers about it raises other questions: Was the system rebooted? Did it work? Passengers did not receive any other explanation and instead spent six hours staring at blacked-out entertainment screens. They were equally uninformed of the progress of the trip until, finally, it was time to land in Amsterdam.

Inside this flight, Nigerian passengers narrated their past horrific experiences of flying these European airlines, and how the booking and in-flight services change when these airlines operate within the Western territories. KLM’s experience is just a yardstick, as all European airlines share this institutionalized racial service structure—an unwritten policy of discrimination entrenched in their operational standards.

A failure by these European carriers to adequately supervise their African locations in similar standards to their European bases is racist.

Flight attendants may appear professional and may wear a smiling face, yet their service system remains well-structured, bigoted garbage. KLM operatives are very much aware that their ground services at their African locations are unsupervised—usually riddled with bribery, corruption at the highest level, and unrivaled clumsiness. For example, a basic check-in process at their European locations takes less than 15 minutes, whereas it takes hours to undergo a similar process at their African locations. A failure by these European carriers to adequately supervise their African locations in similar standards to their European bases is racist.

Institutional racism is often less noticeable because of its unconcealed nature, which makes it an innocuous routine. It is illogical for these airlines to have daily flights from African to European cities—loaded with 99.9% African passengers—without Black flight attendants, without authentic African food on the menu and, worst, without African TV programs or movies in their entertainment collection. It is completely insensitive and disrespectful to the African culture to serve pasta, apple pie, rice soaked in cheese, and tasteless meat and vegetable patties on a flight filled to the brim with African natives, and to offer them entertainment devoid of African themes.

In addition to a high rate of disparity in airfare, these systemic trends that emit prejudice, negligence, and thoughtlessness manifest as racial discrimination in service delivery standards. Thus, a collective failure of these airlines to provide appropriate and professional services to their African passengers is racially prejudicial.

.

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

Texas Guardian News

Anthony Obi Ogbo

Peter Obi’s “holier than thou” campaign tactic is self-dramatizing folly, not a strategy

Published

on

Currently, he is merely romancing party cliques and showcasing his self-canonized sainthood.

All over his campaign literature and everywhere on social media, a Nigerian upcoming presidential aspirant, Peter Obi, has been touting his moderate lifestyle and honest decision-making aptitude as qualifications for his candidacy. Most Nigerians, especially his supporters, are very excited and are beginning to worship these values as a devotional creed.

The first promotional story to showcase Obi’s moderate lifestyle came in 2017, shortly after his tenure as the governor of Anambra state when he claimed that he had only one wristwatch, which he wore for 17 years. Obi, who was speaking at an event in Lagos, also claimed that he had two pairs of black shoes that he traveled with always. According to Obi, “The purpose of the shoe is to protect the leg from being hurt. Nothing else.” He further gestured, “The purpose of a watch is to keep time. Why would I keep a watch at home? Whose time is it keeping?”

Since then, Obi and his camp have been feeding the voting block with various “holier than thou” tales to distinguish him from his corrupt political colleagues and exonerate him from a system inundated with the highest levels of corruption. To promote the narrative of Obi’s humble and altruistic approach to economic matters, his camp tells of how he would choose a motel over a five-star hotel; how he would fly in economy over business class; and funnier still, how he would go for dinner at a filthy roadside bukateria instead of an expensive restaurant.

As I write, Obi’s camp is busy on social media telling and tagging more self-indulgent stories about his immaculate personality. Just recently, his enthusiasts floated the news on social media that his daughter got married without media ads, private jets, and money-spraying fanfares!

Major questions remain—what is his actual agenda for fixing a completely broken nation?

We must not forget that most Nigerians once embraced a presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, over similar gestures. His social media warriors fed disappointed masses with some worthless cock-and-bull tales about his moral civility and presented him as a fiscally astute conservative who would curb corruption and appropriately manage the country’s economic and financial resources.

Remember when the APC claimed President Buhari’s predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, presented a billion-naira budget for delegates’ lunch, for which Buhari the “good money-manager” declined any expenses, saying that his transition team would bring their own lunch? Or how, during his trip to South Africa, Buhari paid the hotel bills for his staff and asked the rest of the entourage to pay their bills?

As humans, or perhaps as leaders, we should not regard an ethical lifestyle as an achievement worthy of reward or an Oscar, because ethical behavior ought to be expected. It is news only when individuals lack morality in their capacity to lead.

Please do not get me wrong. Leadership and behavior cannot be separated. Behavioral values, as related to one’s traits and comportment, can augment the basis for leadership effectiveness. In fact, at a fundamental level, there are five factors of transformational leadership, namely: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration, which are all tied to leaders’ habits. In other words, it takes a moral leader to successfully lead a moral society.

However, in political governance, situational and contingency challenges play a major role in transformational success; both approaches focus on situations, and both concepts hold different expectations of leaders. In the situational approach, the leader should adapt to the prevailing situation, whereas the contingency concept requires the right leader to match the right situation.

Frankly, looking through decades of corruption in all sectors of Nigerian politics, there are no innocent elected politicians. At this moment in Nigeria’s political history, prospective candidates could focus on prevailing situational and contingency challenges rather than their moral propensities.

Getting there might require specific strategies and competencies completely different from his current self-aggrandizing, “saintly” approach.

Obi is a smart candidate—a compassionate conservative moderate who could adjust to any situational and contingency demands to deliver transformational excellence. He could lead Nigeria more effectively if given a chance. Those are his strengths. However, getting there might require specific strategies and competencies completely different from his current self-aggrandizing, “saintly” approach.

His weaknesses could pose an insurmountable obstacle. Initially, he projected himself as a tribal leader during and shortly after his governorship tenure, and that may come back to haunt him. For example, his handling of the deportation of Igbos around 2013 by the Lagos State government, led by Babatunde Fashola, backfired after he was said to have referred to Lagos as “no man’s land.” Without a doubt, the deportation of 72 allegedly destitute Igbos to Onitsha was a bad move.

Even as Governor Fashola acknowledged this and offered an unreserved apology for the confusion that preceded his actions, most politicians in the southwest took advantage of the situation to attack Obi’s relationship with this region. Femi Fani-Kayode, a former federal minister and politician, wrote: “The claim that the Igbo helped to develop Lagos is hogwash. The major institutions of the southwest were developed by the diligence, hard work, industry, and sweat of the Yoruba people. This is a historical fact.”

The All Progressives Congress (APC) also accused Obi of “threatening the unity of the country” by “playing politics with the deportation”. Others projected Obi as a hypocrite because, equally, he deported citizens to Akwa-Ibom and Ebonyi States in 2011 from his state, Anambra.

Another impediment that could weaken Obi’s candidacy may be connected with the revelation of his secret international business dealings through the Pandora Papers project. Obi became a familiar figure to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after an investigation revealed that he had several secret business dealings and relationships including some he clandestinely set up and operated overseas, including notorious tax and secrecy havens that breached Nigerian law.

Obi’s electability might also depend on how Igbo politicians can mobilize their region in the ongoing registration exercise. Eligible Igbo voters are just not registering, and this could pose a damaging threat to any Igbo candidate. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), attributed the low turnout of eligible voters to insecurity and fear. It may also be attributed to the damaging effects of the Indigenous People of Biafra’s (IPOB) frequent acts of violence in enforcing the sit-at-home order.

To further threaten his chances of becoming president, the devastating demonstrations, violent threats, and demands of some pro-separatist ethnic Igbos, especially the IPOB, have provoked fears among the northern region, who are least likely to support any Igbo President en masse.

Looking across the electoral map, Obi would need more support from people in the northern and western regions, who have better voting numbers and are more politically involved than his Igbo kinsmen, who are currently saddled with both low registration and participation. Currently, the No-Biafra-No-Election mantra is still trending.

To persevere in his quest for the presidency, Obi must exhibit a good knowledge of the political environment encompassing both the regional stakeholders and all the geopolitical zones. The “holier than thou” campaign tactic is a self-aggrandizing exercise in idiocy, not a strategy. Currently, he is merely romancing party cliques and showcasing his self-canonized sainthood.

He could still turn things around by presenting his core cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal competencies as strategies to attract trust from non-Igbo party stakeholders and voters.

Yet, there are still issues: his challenges transcend the current amplification of his choice of shoes, watches, motels, or restaurants. Strategies must focus on addressing the aforementioned challenges. How will he mobilize his people to register? How does he intend to win the trust of regions currently skeptical about electing an Igbo president? How will he explain his past transgressions? How does his proclaimed moderate lifestyle dovetail with his several secret business dealings revealed through the Pandora Papers project? #

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Professor Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Anthony Obi Ogbo

Akwete fabric makers must mechanize quickly—the Chinese are coming

Published

on

So, how can local Akwete fabric producers get adequate training to replace antiquated manual labor methods with competitive contemporary machines and mechanisms?

The new governor of Anambra State, Chukwuma Charles Soludo, may have set in motion what might be perceived as the second revolution of Akwete textiles. Throughout his campaign, and as recently as today, he has not just preached this philosophy but has also demonstrated it by voluntarily offering himself as this local trade’s brand ambassador. According to the governor, “My Akwete dress is not just a dress; it’s a statement. I want to make a statement with it. You know, in the entire Southeast, this is the only textile product alive, and it’s handmade by the women of Akwete in Abia State.”

Soludo’s proclamation soon aroused other leaders in the Southeast to follow suit and advocate a similar cause―to revitalize and purchase these local textiles. A few days ago, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia (Akwete’s home state) and other governors attending the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum wore Akwete fabrics to their meeting in the Ukwa East local government area.

Governor Ikpeazu has always been a fan of this fabric and has always expressed pride that it comes from his home state. Other political and community leaders and celebrities of Igbo descent have also used this fabric to demonstrate loyalty.

However, the purpose of this commentary is not to assess the people’s benefaction of, or devotion to, this product. By all indications, this product and the makers have now been given another chance to prosper from their handicraft once again. Igbos, it appears, are passionately ready to make this fabric their signature attire. One may recall that Akwete fabric textiles thrived during the nineteenth century and were worn by the women of Akwete (now Abia State). The Igbos then started trading this fabric for goods from international traders and those from other parts of Nigeria.

Online commerce has extensively superseded traditional face-to-face or business-to-business trade engagements

Currently, however, the Akwete production technique is not very different from what it was when it began. The weaving involves a laborious, manual interlacing technique performed on a two-system loom. Weavers sit on a low chair, and they labor for hours to produce a substantial length. Today, however, the global system has completely changed, and the economic environment is entirely different. Online commerce has extensively superseded traditional face-to-face or business-to-business trade engagements.

Remember, Akwete clothmakers are local, traditional fabricators who do not know about branding their talents nor elevating them to a competitive market level. They are, therefore, likely to lose their entire Akwete fabric culture to larger, capital-oriented companies from other places. It’s possible that while wearing this fabric at political events or in loyalty to a homemade product is healthy for promotion and ancestry comradeship, it might bear no economic relevance.

Currently, there have been attempts by a few Nigerian traders and investors to develop a more modernized fabrication system, but that might not be enough to sustain the modern global market structure.   For instance, with China’s advent as a significant player in Africa, trade and investment have grown tremendously. China now competes with the United States and European Union (EU) as one of Africa’s trade, investment, and aid partners. They are all over Africa buying up ideas and exploring products and cultures—and then commercializing them through predatory monopolistic ventures.

Globally, the fabric industry is strong. Unfortunately, African fabric dealers and manufacturers remain vulnerable to more aggressive, well-prepared foreign merchants. For example, Qingdao Phoenix, a Chinese textile industry specializing in African wax printing materials, touts the most advanced equipment and latest technologies in textile production. This company is also the manufacturer of the Hitarget brand, which features what are considered to be the most popular African print designs, styles, and colors. Interestingly, most Dutch designs available today within the African marketplace are low-cost reproductions made in China.

Akwete challenge is beyond a trending “made-in-Abia” excitement

Therefore, the Akwete challenge is beyond a trending “made-in-Abia” excitement. It is now a matter of urgency to facilitate the strategic transition from creating these products by hand to using relevant technologies. This philosophy must go beyond looking at who wears these fabrics or does the photoshoot; training, capital investment, and other appropriate support efforts are necessary to initiate technological innovation and process change.

So, how can local Akwete fabric producers get adequate training to replace antiquated manual labor methods with competitive contemporary machines and mechanisms? How can they embrace relevant technologies to distribute and market this product and eliminate the current, outdated business-to-consumer sales and distribution culture? How sincerely do they want to remain producers, distributors, or perhaps sole custodians of their talent and artistic culture—without losing out to today’s ruthless, capitalistic market environment?

Grab a coffee, and let’s have a conversation. #

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Professor Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Anthony Obi Ogbo

Obiano was not running away from the law; he was running away from his wife

Published

on

Her lifestyle and extravagant indiscretion fed comedians, bloggers, and vloggers with endless content.

Former President Jonathan was liberal to the core. He was one of those laid-back family heads who would overlook a teenage daughter smooching with a male friend behind the big garbage container in the backyard. Not so for the wife, Patience. She was a no-nonsense first lady, conservative to the core, and to a fault. She was domineeringly in control of her husband, her “first lady” office, staff, and politics.

So, when she took an entourage that included the wives of various public officers to Poland in 2014, an absurd but disgraceful incident involving Ebele Obiano, the then Anambra State First Lady, and Hon. Uche Ekwunife, a member of the Federal Constituency of Anambra State at the time, made it into the media. Mrs. Jonathan had witnessed and prevented what would have been a disgraceful physical altercation. The first lady, it was gathered, was disappointed with Mrs. Obiano who had orchestrated the entire chaotic incident, and she threatened to drop her from subsequent trips. There is little doubt Mrs. Jonathan knew Ebele and why she is not suitable for public service.

The purpose of this editorial is not to reinvent the 2014 incident but to adapt its synopsis as a yardstick for a recent but similar incident involving Mrs. Obiano that occurred during the inauguration of Anambra’s new governor, Dr. Charles Soludo. She had walked up to Bianca, the widow of the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu, and engaged her with rather a verbal and physical terroristic attitude. Irked by the aggression, Mrs. Ojukwu responded with an ear-deafening slap that has outpassed the Ukraine War in trending headline news.

According to Mrs. Ojukwu, “surprisingly, she then walked towards me and I thought she was coming to greet me. Instead, when she got to where I was seated, she verbally attacked me with her voice raised, taunting me, and asking me what I was there to do and using unprintable vile language.”

Mrs. Ojukwu was not done. She unleashed yet another stinker to further explain a disgraceful episode at was supposed to be a historic moment, saying, “What struck me through the whole episode was the fact that she was intoxicated. I was stunned by the stench of whisky in her breath at such an early hour of the day. How could a first lady be so drunk and proceed to turn up in that state to an inauguration ceremony that began at 9.00 am?”

So, who does that? I mean, which first lady would be so drunk before 9:00 am and proceed to the inauguration ceremony of her predecessor? The outgoing Governor, Willie Obiano, who could not bear his wife’s shameful display, quickly left his handover ceremony.

While this dishonorable event was still trending, another news story broke involving the ex-governor, Mr. Obiano. A team from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested him on the same evening at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, on his way out of the country to Houston, Texas, in the United States.

Of course, this now ex-governor has been on the commission’s watch list since last year, so why would he try to escape hours after handing over the office? An unconfirmed EFCC source claimed he stole billions from Security Vote funds through cash withdrawals.

No doubt, Willie Obiano and most of his executive staff might have tough questions to answer after facilitating eight years of unexplained money-spinning ventures off their official obligations. Yet, Mrs. Obiano’s unrestrained arrogance, ludicrous ego, and primitive demeanor may have contributed to her husband’s swift departure from the country.

In an eight-year tenure, Mrs. Obiano has offered nothing as the first lady but a thread of reprehensible and clownish blunders on her husband’s mandate. She has remained one of the most hated tenants in the government house. So much so that, after her slap ordeal, millions of Nigerians on social media were jubilant, seeing it as a thorough vindication of her prolonged moronic attitude toward official business.

Her lifestyle and extravagant indiscretion fed comedians, bloggers, and vloggers with endless content. She frequently shuttled unannounced from Lagos to Sugarland, Texas where they own a home apparently at the expense of tax-payers. For instance, in 2021, when nations battling COVID-19 deaths were rationing vaccines among at-risk individuals, Mrs. Obiano left her state in Nigeria to visit Houston for a COVID jab, which she arrogantly videoed to gratify her ego.

These things may explain why most Nigerians celebrated her inauguration slap ordeal, apparently, as a therapy for her perilous narcissistic temperament. Time will tell whether or not Mrs. Obiano has learned her lesson. Or, perhaps, if one solid slap was enough to erase decades of imbecility, primeval comportment, and egotism.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Professor Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: