The face-off between the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero and Air Peace Airline weekend deepened as the emir issued a 72 hour ultimate to the airline to apology or face the consequences over alleged disrespect.
Recall that face-off started when the Emir and his entourage had a connecting flight to Kano to catch up in Lagos from Banjul but was behind schedule due to a delay departing from Banjul to Lagos by same airline.
It was alleged that the Emir and his entourage pleaded with the airline management to delay the flight takeoff as a respect for the Emir but the airline declined.
The Chief Protocol Officer to the Emir, Isa Bayero had written a letter of complaint to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, seeking punitive actions against Air Peace Airline for what he tagged “disrespect to the emir and the people of Kano State.”
But in a reaction, Air Peace through it Chief Operating Officer, Toyin Olajide, insisted that the airline did not disrespect the Emir as alleged, but protected the image of the Emir from ridicule.
However, the matter took another dimension weekend when the Bayero who doubles as cousin of the Emir issued an ultimatum to the airline to apologise or face the consequences.
According to him, “Since we left Banjul an hour behind schedule, the airline should know they have 10 passengers transiting to Kano and should know the right thing was to reschedule the flight because the delay we had was never our fault. I called severally the management (Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Onyema) to inform him about our precarious situation but he didn’t pick. Later when he picked he told us it was not possible. Courtesy demands the management should make necessary arrangement for the VIP because I had called the airline while in Banjul to make provision for vehicle that would take the emir from international wing to domestic.
“That they respected the emir for refusing to delay the flight is totally wrong and unacceptable because, if they truly respected the emir, they should understand the aircraft was not complete without 10 passengers including the VIP.
“We booked our tickets on that aircraft and anybody that is familiar with international flight understands what on-transit passengers are and they have priority more than any other passenger on board.
For delaying us from Banjul which caused our arriving late to Lagos, Air Peace has the moral right to accommodate or take care of us. Unfortunately, there was no option or offer to ease our situation only for us to be left stranded.
“It was pure falsehood for them to make that claim that there was offer to take us to Abuja from there to Kano. I was the one that asked for Abuja flight and they claimed the Abuja flight was fully booked. If their aircraft to Abuja was full already how do we get to Abuja? Let us assume they had taken us to Abuja, how certain that there was Kano flight available from Abuja? What I expected there was Azman airline, scheduled flight for Kano. Why couldn’t they arrange for that as alternative if air peace truly respected the Emir of Kano? So, there was no offer.
“I am giving an ultimatum of 72 hours for Air Peace to tender apologies to the emir, first in national daily and secondly to come down in person to the emir, or else, we would not hesitate to go extra miles to correct the misnomer.
“The action of Air Peace is sentimental and unprofessional and we can go any length to defend and protect any act of insensitivity against our prestigious traditional institution. That insult is not heaped on the emir alone but on the good people of Kano and folding our hands on this could trigger something worse and more ridiculous.
“I wrote to the DG NCAA, to complain but if someone claimed my statement is inciting, well, they are entitled to their opinion. But come to think of it, inciting who, Kano people because the airline insulted their emir and the airline refused to apologise? That I have no regret if anybody claims or interprets my complaint that way.
After all, air peace has been in business before coming to Kano and Kano people have been flying across the world without air peace. So if, that is what he wants, so be it. We will get there.
“I’m a professional pilot; I have flown five heads of state besides being a prince of Kano, and personal friend to the Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema