by Japheth Omojuwa
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”