On Board Arik Air Flight W3-160

It was another Saturday morning just that this time around; I knew I was a free man that was good to rest. I knew I did not have to bother about what my schedules would be for the day. I was home and on a few days vacation. I took my mind back to the night before when I had to travel through the dreaded but objective mode of transportation; flying. Before leaving the hotel for the airport, it was clear I was happy to go home at

 least after about three weeks of having to fulfill all righteousness of fending for my family’s future. My initial thoughts of traveling by road had disappeared from my mind. I braced up and shifted my flying worries to when I will have to head back to Abuja and Uyo. We were eventually called for boarding at about 7:00pm after waiting for about an hour. Though I had managed to get my mind off my flight fears but was not too sure till I got into the aircraft that was filled to the brim. A lot of people were even asked to use the next plane on ground; a propeller plane that I dread the most. The good news was that this plane was a transit flight as we were later informed by the pilot that they came from Kaduna en route Lagos.  At least I found a seat close to a female captain that was American-accented with two air hostesses that were on their way home. I had to confess to them using the words of my good friend JOK that I practically died and resurrected while airborne.  To my own surprise, they were surprised that I was scared. Was it a way of giving me courage? Time would tell. 

The bad side of it was that it was dark, that means I would be scared the more, the good side of it was that I will not have to notice our separation from the ground, but honestly in my mind eyes, I noticed it. There was a little argument between an obviously stubborn lady passenger behind me and a well mannered hostess. Regulations says no hand luggage on your laps for takeoff and landing, but because the plane was filled to the brim, there was no space for her to keep her hand bag down if she had to stretch her legs, so she preferred to keep it on her laps. She rejected the offer of the well mannered hostess to keep her bag where it will be out of her sight. And knowing that this singular action might likely delay our departure, while nobody was willing to step in first to support any party, I knew I had to help our plane depart on time. So I sternly looked at the lady, and told her plainly “Madam, please that is the regulations here and you will have to follow it” the next thing that followed was “who is she that wants to be treated differently, is she just flying, I mean there was fire in hush tones. At least she succumbed though I took a bold step of apologizing to her for initiating her multiple attacks. By this time I was sure I would not be terribly scared of heights. One of the returning hostesses that eventually became my friend though I do not know her name engaged me in several conversations throughout our stay on air, or was I the one that engaged her? I knew I had to be busy talking and listening. While having some few manageable bumps and gallops during takeoff, she informed me that that was her best part of flying, can you imagine? That she actually felt she was airborne when the flight was bumpy. Anyway, I took down that lesson, and can you imagine I started enjoying the bumps. I was sure going to be a psychiatrist for John Okiyi Kalu, as my trial student in flight phobias.  It general, it was one of my most confident flights, and I believed I would keep it that way.

While on air, I was busy chatting off my new found lady friend and psyche, while most of the men were busy talking about the internal security of the country. I had to keep my discussions with the lady alive and ignore the men for fear of my complexity. But somehow today I have decided to come up with a summary of the minds of those men. My dear readers, if you had the perception that there was any difference between a beer palour discussion when a new and complicating issues arises and that of the alleged civilized men on the plane, you will need to repent of that believe when you are done with my story. There was a middle aged man sitting in the middle seat of the row right in front of me who was carrying a news paper I presumed was THE PUNCH, it carried the picture of fierce looking images of bazookas or were they bombs? I will leave that to the experts to decide because as far as am concerned, they are all bombs to me. A man sitting on the aisle seat of the opposite side took a glimpse on the paper and requested if the man could give him the cover page to have a closer look at the bombs that were supposedly meant to either kill him or someone he might eventually know in the midst of other dead fellows. As soon as he took the first glance, he shook his head, looked at his friend by his side and said ‘Babangida wants to kill us all”. Hmmm! the next man exclaimed, ‘are you really sure IBB imported those things?’ asked his immediate neighbor, walai am suspecting Gusau said another man that didn’t seem to be related to them from my seat row on the other side directly behind them. Another young man asked the commentators to be cautious the way they were talking since they didn’t know who was sitting with us. The owner of the paper said there was nothing to be scared of since we were all threatened already, that he was ready to speak on our behalf if the need arise. He went ahead to tell us that the bombs were possibly brought in to equipped the Boko haram Militia as he knew that they were ill equipped as compared to the Niger Delta militant. He even said he was from Bauchi and as such he had intels on when the first moves were made to acquire the armors. At that point I noticed people got scared of him. His immediate neighbor didn’t make any effort to disagree with him for fear of being seen as a potential enemy. 

An elderly man in his mid 60s that was sitting by me made efforts to compliment him since he was sure the guy was a little bit supportive of his believe. He told him clearly that he was impressed that he was informed and as such would not be detrimental to the south southerners, but before the man could finish, another guy from my behind told the man to shut up as he was sure that the young man didn’t know what he was saying. He asked him if he was not aware that the Israelis had come up with a version of the source and destination of the bombs that those bazookas were meant to be used by the Hamas in Palestine to deal with the state of Israel. “Story story” An initially quiet lady that appeared to have nothing to do with the news except what she is told exclaimed, ‘haba, which one is Hamas again now? Have they decided to bring their war down here, or is our enemy of progress at it again’? I guessed it was time for the ladies. The arrogant lady that was behind me told the lady that she knows that it was all lies, that she was sure that the evil one had a plan beyond our comprehension. “Who told you its Israel? Which Pakistan abi Palestine or India? See Nigerians will continue talking till we will wake up one day to hear that our president has been kidnapped by the evil one, and that the ransom is the office of the president itself. Hahahahahah, everybody laughed, she said that was not all, that she was even told by her good friend in government that the bombs were actually acquired to bomb one location after the other till the government of the incumbency agrees to step out of the 2011 election’s race. Another girl that was obviously not happy with the attention this allegedly stubborn lady was getting, murmured in a not too quiet tone to her neighbors that this girl was a clear case of a talkative and trouble itself. In fact, she wondered why there was no security agent in the plane that could just grab her with handcuffs to go and explain the locations that will be bombed. Fire came down on the plane when the stubborn lady heard the word ‘hand cuffs’ she said she pitied her that she should not be quick to thank her stars as she could decide to use the hand cuffs she had on her when we arrive Lagos. 

It was really getting interesting as the guy that first accused Gusau of bringing in the bombs step in to help matters. He had to be careful there as the other jealous girl was beginning to boil; she would not let the stubborn girl intimidate her. She fired back, “am more civilized than you are, first you started hard with your ignorance against the air-hostess, why should I exchange words with you” Hmmm, my dear readers, this did not go well for the stubborn lady as she almost made efforts to stand, and you know what? I prayed she didn’t join me in the case after I had initially apologized, because if she stood up, she will need to stretch over me to reach the girl in front to me. I made up my mind I was not going to interfere as my lady hostess friend was still making efforts to keep me in our discussions. The guy had to apply wisdom so as not to be seen as an enemy of either of the girls, “it does not matter what they want to do with the bombs at least we intercepted it, so let’s not plan to meet people at the airport in Lagos abi, smiling at the stubborn lady, the lady had to smile back. He looked up at the initially calm lady and smiled at her, “madam am a security operative and I will not arrest anybody, lets enjoy our flight” everybody laughed. Another slim lanky guy that was not looking very friendly asked the guy if his security agency had found Gusua guilty already since he had allegedly claimed that Gusua was the owner of the missiles. 

The ladies now came to the guys rescue, they all asked the guy to give them an alternative culprit as they were certain that the first three possible culprit were, Babangida, Atiku and Gusau, and that the guy was not far from the answer, after all, he was a security agent. At that point I knew the guy was in trouble, they were not helping him; they were mocking him. Girls! They all joined efforts to attack the guy. They all became friends while still airborne to the detriment of the guy that stepped in to make peace between them; in fact two other girls took part in the attack. The good news is that we had a very smooth flight until our descend into Lagos, but because I started enjoying the bumps on air, I will say it was a lovely descend.  The guy was calmed by this attack, he could barely say a word, he was humbled. The Pilot came alive to help him when he announced to us almost after the seatbelt lights were turned on, he told us that we would be touching ground within 10mins but will take another 10mins to taxi to our terminal since we were landing at the international wing of the airport. So we had to buckle up for landing. What the guy did not know was that in the midst of ladies, one had to be careful. My dear readers if I may ask, WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BOMBS?

by Donald Ekpo