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Nigeria and the flying elephant

by Good News

I if truth be told non-public lengthy belief that nothing better captures the challenges dealing with Nigeria than the chronicle of the flying elephant. It doesn’t topic whether or no longer the challenges are economic, political or social, it’s insightful to revisit the destiny of that elephant, the allegorical logo of Nigeria’s first national airline.

When Nigeria Airways modified into launched on Oct. 1, 1958, the image makers had a entire bunch choices for an logo. Presumably the most evident were issues that flee: an arrow, an eagle, a seagull. Rather they chose to tag the airline because the flying elephant. Yes, the emblem painted on the tails of the planes and imprinted on tickets modified into that of an elephant fitted with wings and superimposed on the Nigerian flag.

Incongruent as it will maybe maybe maybe appear, it modified into shiny. An logo of flying issues is banal. That of a flying elephant better captures the miracle of air shuttle. A jumbo jet in flight is extra have a flying elephant than a hovering eagle. Rather then an elephant, it goes to non-public been a hippo or a rhino. They all would better symbolize the feat of flight than these issues that naturally flee.

Had Nigeria Airways performed neatly, the inaugural logo will non-public change into textbook topic fabric for ingenious branding.  As an alternative, it modified into ruined when the airline grew to change into recognized for unreliable and chaotic operations. It automatically remained on the floor lengthy after it modified into alleged to resolve off. Too in total, it didn’t resolve off at all. And when it did, it will be to a destination that is numerous from what is on the schedule.

So, the coarse logo grew to change into a mockery for the airline. Rather then symbolising the miracle of flight, the flying elephant came to stand for a lumbering operation. The accompanying slogan of “Skypower” modified into in an identical blueprint derided. In due route, the emblem modified into modified from the poetic elephant to the prosaic eagle. The tag of derision modified into thus removed, but no longer the substantive space off.

In April 1987 — about 16 years earlier than the airline folded — then Minister of Transportation and Aviation Brig. Jerry Useni foretold the death. “Our national airline is a disgrace,’’ he told the workers in an address. ‘’Lateness, delays, outright cancellation of flights and a nonchalant perspective of the workers towards clients are now segment of your operational guide. You ought to sit up and enhance; in every other case, you might maybe well be signing your hold death warrant.”

Given the context of Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s defense drive regime, that final bit of the warning will non-public sent chills during the workers. Mercifully, Useni didn’t point out it actually. The death warrant modified into for the airways, and it materialised in 2003. By then, rather just a few them had moved on anyway.

For the length of the address, Useni complained that the manager modified into pouring sizable quantities into the airline with nothing to display for it. Without a doubt, the airline had change into so financially stressed out that it couldn’t pay its world tasks. It grew to change into the most fundamental airline to face the ignominy of being suspended from the World Air Transport Affiliation.

The suspension supposed that Nigeria Airways might maybe well maybe no longer interface with other airways — relating to dangerous-booking, as an instance. The resulting operational constraints compounded the airline’s troubles.

What Useni didn’t voice modified into that executive allocation wasn’t adequate to attach the airline. Its harm inhered in its operational circumstances, just a few of which non-public been dictated by the manager.

For one thing, it modified into required to payment fares that were appropriate a share of what others charged, fares that were economically untenable. And, in accordance to the Unusual York Times, the airline employed 500 of us for every plane it operated, a ratio that modified into about double the realm sensible.

And then there modified into the Nigerian penchant for showy overreach. We peek that in our birthday bashes, weddings, funerals, etc. In the case of Nigeria Airways, it modified into looking to maintain what the massive boys were doing, and that is to service the entire world. It flew to 38 airports, 22 of which non-public been at international lands and a form of were no longer winning. With this form of burden, the eagle couldn’t cruise any better than the elephant.

What’s of particular pastime in the foregoing is that the complications were so glaring they didn’t require an economist to name them and prescribe therapies. Yet, the airline lumbered on as although it modified into on the suitable route. Then came the turbulence of Babangida’s economic restructuring, and the smash modified into a topic of time. With a sharply devalued naira and no corresponding web bigger in fares, the airline barely managed to lope except 2003.

So great of Nigeria’s complications nowadays reflect the jam of Nigeria Airways and the flying elephant. When Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914, he couldn’t non-public been blind to the seeming incongruence of merging of us of such disparate cultures and religion. But he most certainly saw the poetry of the merger pretty than prose. He saw the synergy extra so than the division.

In many ways, Nigerians sought to capitalise on that synergy and pull off the miracle of the flying elephant. That’s why early in the lifestyles of the republic, Nigeria modified into hailed because the showcase of democracy in Africa. And Nigerian leaders automatically enthused relating to the nation’s future as an economic powerhouse that can maybe well remove up the comfort of dusky Africa.

However the noble vision modified into no match for parochial interests and non-public ambitions. So, limitations to the vision that can maybe well non-public been removed were as an quite loads of made to fester. Avoidably, the nation descended into a civil battle that lasted about 30 months, and is now being resurrected. The political class, who sold into the belief of Nigeria’s manifest destiny, now derides it, appropriate as it did the emblem of the flying elephant.

Judging by the scheming in preparation for the 2023 elections, there’s miniature evidence of classes learned from the 1960s. Parochial interests and non-public ambitions composed appear to be the most valuable motive drive.

If Nigeria crashes out have the Nigeria Airways, it wouldn’t be attributable to what came about in 1914. It’d be attributable to disinclination to maintain what is crucial to repair obtrusive complications. It’d be attributable to failure to be guided by the sizable vision.


 Final week’s column appears to be to point out that Russian President Vladimir Putin modified into in his 70s in his iconic horseback photo. He modified into if truth be told about 57.

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