Remember the Mutallab underwear bombing saga? I have always been of the opinion that were it a Nigerian carrier on a direct flight from Lagos with mainly Nigerians, the attempt would have been successful. Some agree, others don't. The reason why I hold this opinion however is very simple; the average Nigerian, - in my humble opinion - is a coward.
I was on an Arik Air flight last week from Lagos to Benin. After a slight delay - never mind the commotion to check in - the doors finally closed and the crew began their demonstration on safety measures. To my utter amazement, mid sentence another crew member walked up to the guy carrying out the demonstration and whispered something. He immediately stopped and without any explanation or hesitation, walked towards the cockpit and picked up something that looked to me like a phone -
apparently what announcements are made on. He speaks into it for a brief moment and then walks to the door and opens it! A lone passenger then climbs up the stairs and strolls onto the plane, finds his seat and buckles up in readiness for the flight. If I was amazed at the crew member's earlier break without explanation, this certainly knocked me for two.
The passenger is now comfortably seated and ready for flight; and so the same crew member goes back to his former position and just carries on with the safety demonstrations as though the video had been unpaused - no apologies or explanations offered, and guess what? None was demanded! Everyone just carried on like it was a perfectly normal occurrence! Myself included. At this point, I thought I might be in a trance. How else do you explain this?
Are we so cowardly that we cannot demand explanations even for the very poor service which we pay over the odds for? I am one of the people who keep moaning about the absolute lack of customer service in this country but the truth is that nothing will change for as long as we do not complain or demand better. After all as the yankees would say 'if it aint broke, don't try to fix it'
If the Mutallab saga had occurred on a flight packed full with Nigerians, who would have challenged the guy? Who would be the first to speak up? Nigerians would rather wait for one person to spear head a protest of sorts and then chorus behind him and egg him on. That way, none among the mob can be identified.
I remember once on my way to Dubai, my connecting flight was delayed overnight at Addis Ababa and so we were offered hotel accommodation for the night. You would be surprised to learn that some of the Nigerian passengers on my flight spent the night in the airport lobby simply because they neither asked questions from the appropriate quarters nor listened to announcements.
God help us!