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Flights of fear over no flights

By Mike Ebonugwo

“I believe the world is at last coming to end,” so declared a parliamentarian at a bus-stop gathering in Obalende, Lagos last week. Prompted to explain what he meant by this ominous declaration, the parliamentarian who gave his name as Franklin had said thus: “Ah-ah, are you not aware that the whole world is almost at a standstill now because no airline is presently operating in Europe. No plane is flying from anywhere in Europe as I’m speaking to you now.

They say planes can’t fly now because a kind of smokey ash from a vulcanic eruption has covered the sky in Europe making it impossible for pilots to see their way to the airports they want to land. And the problem is that there is no sign yet that the situation will change soon. So, for now, no movement by air. I read in the Bible that when things like this begin to happen, it means the world is about to end,” he informed.

Stranded passengers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, following the opening of airspace in Europe occasioned by the Iceland volcanic eruption, in Lagos.

Parliamentarian Solomon took it up from there. “Ah, my brother, that thing is a serious matter O. Do you know there’s this friend of mine that travelled to Germany for a programme about the time the problem started. He is supposed to have returned to the country since, but he’s still trapped there because there’s no flight to bring him to Nigeria. The last time he called he was complaining about the difficulties he and many others are going through due to this situation. He said his visa had long expired and he has little or no money left. Right now all we’re doing is to pray for him,” he said.

“I also heard that nothing is happening in some states now because their governors and other top government officials are also trapped in Europe,” quipped a parliamentarian by name Osondu. Continuing he said:.” They say when you go to the government houses of  these states everything is just dull because Oga is not around to make things happen. So everybody, especially contractors, are just waiting for Oga to come back”.

“Na that one good  for them,” declared Franklin. “How come they’re always travelling to Europe instead of staying at home to do the work their people elected them to do? Assuming this ash thing did not happen and caused flights to be cancelled, maybe their people would not have known that they have travelled out again. And now look at it,  nothing is happening in their states because there’s no one to supervise things…,” he posited as he was interrupted by a parliamentarian who gave his name as Sola.

Sola’s position was that governance does not have to grind to a halt simply because the chief executive of a state has travelled. According to him: “Even though the governor may have travelled and his return delayed by flight problem, that one does not mean that government activities will no longer go on. After all he has a deputy who should take over immediately he is not around.

Apart from that, we’re presently in an era of information technology which makes it possible for you to communicate and be in touch from wherever you are. I can assure you that all governors or government officials affected by this problem are still discharging their duties from where they are. They would have been using their phones and internet facilities to run their affairs from abroad”.

Solomon was not impressed by this argument which he dismissed thus: “Why are you talking like Aondoakaa like this? It is the same kind of argument Aondoakaa used when he said President Yar’Adua can rule Nigeria from his hospital bed in Saudi Arabia or anywhere for that matter as long as he likes. But you and I know that is not true because the Constitution does support it. And that is why Aondoakaa was heavily criticised when he made that comment. So, don’t talk as if these governors have every right to leave their states when they like and be gallivanting up and down abroad”.

But for a parliamentarian who identified himself as Akpo: “What I cannot understand is why these people will not travel home by ship since there is no flight for them to travel with”. This comment provoked all round laughter with Sola asking thus: “Do you know how long it will take them to reach Nigeria if they travel by ship? Weeks! And it’s even dangerous because Somali pirates can hijack the ship and kidnap everybody on board”.


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