By Adaku Walter
Air Peace and its Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Allen Onyema, are in for more trouble as the airline has the next 24 hours to issue a public and personal apology to the Emirate of Kano for the alleged disrespect or face consequences.
The Chief Protocol Officer of the Emir of Kano, Isah Bayero, had on Saturday given Air peace airline a 72-hour ultimatum to offer an apology for allegedly disrespecting the Emir, Aminu Ado-Bayero and causing a delay to his flight.
Bayero, who gave the ultimate while speaking to journalists, refuted the airline’s statement and evidence of the phone log conversation, which revealed an offer to the Emir on an alternative flight to Abuja as well as to protect the image of the emir from ridicule from the public.
He insisted that the statement was not true, assuring that he would continue to speak against the alleged ill-treatment the liner caused to the emir and himself as private customers until the Chairman of Air Peace offers an apology.
He said the action of Air Peace is sentimental and unprofessional, noting that they can go any length to defend and protect the act of insensitivity against their prestigious traditional institution.
“That insult is not heaped on the Emir alone but the good people of Kano and folding our hands on this could trigger something worse and more ridiculous.
“I am giving an ultimatum of 72 hours for Air peace to tender an apology to the emir, first in a national daily and secondly to come down in person to the Emir. We would not hesitate to go the extra mile to correct the abnormality,” he said.
Speaking on the petition against the airline to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), seeking punitive actions against it, Bayero said the petition was to complain about the ill-treatment and not to incite the people of Kano to avoid patronising the airline.
“I am a professional pilot. I have flown five heads of state besides being a prince of Kano, and I am a personal friend to the Chairman of Air Peace,” he stated.
Earlier, the Chief Operating Officer, Air Peace Ltd, Toyin Olajide, while responding to the news of alleged disrespect to the Emir, said Bayero had threatened to incite the people of Kano against the airline if it did not stop the aircraft heading to Abuja that had since finished boarding and was almost taxiing out.
Olajide explained that if the airline had agreed to stop and delay an aircraft already set to take off, for another one hour only for the doors to be opened and the Emir to walks in, there would have been a very serious uproar in the media nationwide against both the airline and the Emir.
She said the airline reasoned this with Bayero and pleaded with him to understand but he refused, demanding the management of Air Peace stop and delay a fully boarded plane with doors already shut and aircraft already moving, while the Emir and his entourage, including Isa Bayero, were still at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos after arriving from Banjul.
She also revealed that contrary to Bayero’s claim of calling the airline chairman while in Banjul, the telephone log evidence on the phone of the chairman showed that Bayero called at about 5.52 am, at a time the chairman was still sleeping.
Olajide said from the same log, it could be seen that Bayero called the chairman again at 5.59 am, which woke him up and on seeing that it was Bayero calling, the chairman took the call.
“Bayero told our Chairman that he and the Emir of Kano had just landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos from Banjul, Gambia and would be proceeding to Kano the same morning. He told the Chairman to delay our first flight of the day, the 6:15 am Lagos-Kano flight for him and the Emir with another eight persons.
“It was not true that our Chairman refused flatly. He rather told Bayero to give him a few minutes to call the airport to find out the status of the flight. He called immediately and intimated me with the request.
“I quickly called Bayero with this information and I expressed our desire to put him, their entourage and the Emir of Kano on our 7.00 am Lagos- Abuja flight and that on landing in Abuja, we would then put him on our flight going to Kano at no cost to them. Bayero refused this offer and insisted that the already taxing aircraft be stopped and delayed until the Emir and the other eight persons arrive at the local wing of the airport.
“At this point, as stated earlier, Bayero and the Emir of Kano had just landed at the international wing of the airport, this means they would still need to go through Immigration, get their baggage and, of course, clear with Customs before entering the morning Lagos traffic to get to the local wing of the airport. This would mean that the passengers in the plane ready to depart would have to wait in the plane for nothing less than an hour,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has called on prominent Nigerians to intervene in the misunderstanding between Bayero and the management of the airline for peace to reign.
The National President of the group, Yerima Shettima, in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday, expressed worry that a viable solution to the ongoing misunderstanding seems far away as elders in the country are yet to either pay attention to the matter or make move in the interest of peace.
He said urgent intervention is needed in the interest of peace, adding, “we don’t want our beloved Kano, the financial nerve centre of the North to have fewer number of commercial airlines plying the State.”
Shettima also expressed surprise that the chairman of Air peace is being associated with disrespecting the Emir of Kano, saying he has never been linked to disrespect for monarch in the North, much less the Emir of Kano.
He explained that the airline chairman has made business sacrifices, evacuating Nigerians from troubled spots around the world, with the most recent being that of South Africa’s xenophobic attacks, expressing hope that this matter will not obliterate such sacrifices.
On the issue of delayed flights, the AYCF leader gave an instance of what happened two years ago, when he asked the Peace Air Chairman to delay a flight for them in the entourage of the Chairman of Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, the CNG Chairman Board of Trustees, Nastura Ashir Shariff, which he promptly did.
” I can recall vividly, that we were travelling by road from Ibadan to Lagos in order to catch the Peace Air flight for our return to Abuja at that time; and he did that favour by delaying the flight for over an hour – notwithstanding I am not a revered monarch like His Royal Highness the current Emir of Kano.
“And the Peace Air Chairman later told me why he did that favour. He said he delayed the flight because you and Ango Abdullahi were doing peace shuttles around Nigeria to douse certain tensions. And you were about missing another important peace shuttle in Abuja if that flight was not delayed.
Shettima expressed fear of the matter getting out of hand or creating the wrong impression that the Peace Air chairman was being needlessly intimidated by the Emirate’s Director of Protocol.
“As a group, the AYCF holds the Emir of Kano in very high esteem and it is well-known that if anyone had ever tried to belittle any Emir in the North, we would be the first to fire back. And that is why we are disturbed that our dear Emirate and Peace Air matter has become protracted,” the group president said.
The group further noted that tactical diplomacy is required in ending the worrisome problem, adding that prominent Nigerians are best suited to handle this important matter involving two important pillars of Kano’s economic growth –the royal father whose blessing is needed to move Kano forward and the airline, which is providing vital business services for the State.