COVID-19: Dangers Of Nigerian VIPs’ Culture To Aviation Safety

Nigeria is in no hurry to shed its VIP culture. There exists a VIP bazaar in the country. The upshot is a strategic subject as airport security gets sucked into the vortex of prestige, WOLE SHADARE, writes

Yari, Fintiri ‘found’ out

The alleged irresponsible conduct of a former Governor of Adamawa State, Abdullazeez Yari, and incumbent Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who flew into Kano and Port-Harcourt airports respectively to attend political and social events were said to have violated all known security and COVID-19 procedures.

At the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano, one of the VIP’s aides drove the government official vehicle on a convoy in a dangerous manner that lives of some airport workers were seriously threatened.

The driver on the VIP convoy drove recklessly at one of the restricted areas at the airport and rammed unto an innocent staff, who was busy disinfecting an aircraft.

The worker was knocked down and in a most ungentlemanly and ungodly manner, the driver had no scruples and bait no eyelid and beat an escape.

Also at the Port Harcourt airport, another so called VIP himself and his aides arrived the airport and shunned all the layers of security put in place as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, and domesticated by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, with a view to stemming the spread of Coronavirus.

The so-called ‘important people’ simply cannot do away with the privileges that come with their status and all the benefits attached to it. Primitive arrogance runs deep in their soul.

FAAN, in a statement disclosed that on July 14, 2020 at the Port-Harcourt airport, the governor and eight others on arrival at the airport breached security and refused to follow the public health protocols.

VIP syndrome

Delve into the psyche of society and there roosts the VIP culture syndrome. This is certainly not going to disappear overnight and neither is the mindset going to change in a hurry. On ground level, social and psychological programing is such that everything revolves around power.

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VIPs will continue to throw their weight around and walk around with a false superiority complex. Preferential treatment for them seems to be their birth right.

In a tweet, FAAN condemned the conduct of Fintiri, saying the governor refused to observe airport security and public health protocols.

The misuse of such power further leads to corruption and the bottom line is that, in all this, competence is lost in the power wielding haze and only their arrogance shines through.


A woman walks the red carpet during a security screening.

Every known organisation is afflicted with this malady. The moment the higher authorities demand privileges, the longer the list for wrongful entitlements grow. The red beacon is only one perversion in the extensive list of false supremacy.

Their actions could not escape the ire of FAAN, which decided to call them out. Both VIPs have denied any wrong doing but FAAN maintained they exhibited an irresponsible act that should never have been expected of ‘role models.’

The shaming

These infractions came after nearly four months of harrowing restrictions, which led to resumption of commercial flight services penultimate week.

Like in other parts of the globe, handlers are fast realising that the pandemic is on a long haul. The World Health Organisation (WHO) at the recently said “our sick world might get well but not anytime soon.”

In the interim, all must help the sick to live, prevent the world from getting sick and hope for the best. It is this guarded optimism that has ushered diverse health and safety restrictions into aviation, which often prides itself as the business of freedom.

The occasional hue and cry by Nigerian politicians and celebrities when subjected to security checks must be seen from this context. “It becomes a huge issue in Nigeria because it is mainly driven by the prestige dimension,” said a top official of the Ministry of Aviation.

Above the law

Most politicians, barring honourable exceptions, believe they are above the law. Since they are surrounded by security personnel due to a real or imaginary threat to their lives, they probably believe the men in uniform will also shield them from the coronavirus.

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Mere self-quarantine not enough

Today, many across professions have set a new benchmark for themselves as the country fight this deadly virus, which could prove catastrophic if we were to be casual in our response.

Every Nigerian should be proud of the work being done by doctors, nurses and paramedical staff; officials at all airports, including security and immigration personnel; the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the health ministry and top health institutions who have shown exceptional efficiency in dealing with the virus; and the police, the paramilitary forces and the armed forces, who have set up quality quarantine facilities for passengers arriving from other countries.

Lawmaker carpets elites

Just last year, in a motion on the need to strengthen security at the Nigerian airports, Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue) faulted the attitudes of ‘VIPs’ at the airport.  He accused many Nigerian elite of not obeying airport laws. “What are the attitudes of VIPs at the airport such as distinguished senators because if we are talking about security at our airports we as VIP must lead by example. “I have had a situation where I travelled with a VIP when he was asked to remove his shoes – hell was let loose at the airport”.

But when we got to Germany, this VIP was the first person to remove his belt and trouser because it was jumping. “Mr President, we cannot just be pushing this to security agencies alone. If we get to the airport as a senator or governor and we live by example, if anybody does anything the law will catch up with him.

“When we walk into the airport as VIP and we refuse to be checked and you expect that same security agent to check the common Nigerian, of course he will collect something and move ahead.

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“Let us begin to check ours  if we go elsewhere as far as security issues are concerned there are no exceptions. We must as VIPs check ourselves at the airport.

We are not above the law,” he said. “You may get camera but even if you put the best of cameras on earth, it takes a human being who is willing to take responsibility to manage the camera. We must act quickly to get ourselves out of the ugly situation we are in,” he added.

FAAN MD’s view

Managing Director, FAAN, Capt. Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu, appealed to well-meaning Nigerians, especially those that should be seen as role models, to live up to the public expectations from them, as the younger generation and the airport personnel will no doubt be disappointed and looked at them with low esteem.

Yadudu noted that since the commencement of flight operations, there was no hiccup as passengers, airlines, ground handlers, and all others involved in the aviation chain, complied with the new normal as stipulated by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, that domesticated protocols from ICAO and IATA.

He appealed to the VIPs to cooperate with the new guidelines in place at the airport as a way to instill the general public’s confidence in aviation.

Last line

The Nigerian airport authority has lived up to expectations to put necessary things in place to guarantee safety for all. Nevertheless, airport security violation by elites has remained a hot potato since the two VIPs allegedly flouted COVID-19 airport guidelines.

Yadudu said any action by anyone that undermines the Covid-19 safety protocol at the airports would not be supporting the fight to end the scourge as soon as possible.

Wole Shadare