Of Nigerian Air Travellers And Etiquette

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Passengers with their luggages at an airport in Nigeria.

Often time, most Nigerians want to do things in somewhat hasty manner in public places by attempting stampede-like approach to get their ways faster.
They exhibit this behaviour in so many places such as traffic queues, engagements or disengagements at terminal ports, shopping malls and even while operating Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or boarding aircraft.
Perceptive observers note that although some people, including Nigerians, are by nature so much in haste that they would not care about orderliness, the behaviour is pronounced among Nigerians.
Mr Ernest Osogbue, a broadcaster, said that an average Nigerian has a penchant for behaving in “a military fashion – either rushing in panic or urging those ahead to give way or be crushed.
“This shows in our everyday life of impatience characterised by such terms as now- now, quick-quick and sharp-sharp.
“A walk-down on a street in Abuja or Lagos, or indeed any major city in the country, is a nightmare for anyone who has ever lived in a civilised environment.
“Driving on the roads is no better, as many drivers act like animals in the jungle jostling each other for space.
“Long years of military rule have battered the psyche of the average Nigerian into erroneously falling into the trap of the quicker, the better,” he observed.
He said that it had been normal practices for most Nigerians to disobey traffic rules flagrantly, disrespect each other in public places, jump the queue and drive against traffic.
According to him, citizens must begin to imbibe decorum in their public activities, show respect for one another and obey the simple rules of society.
In his view, Mr Ikechi Uko, a travel and tourism expert, said that the culture of impunity and lawlessness has become an eyesore to most air travellers.
“It is always funny to see that once Nigerians are in an aircraft and the aircraft touches down, even while it is taxiing to the gate, you see them standing up and preparing to disembark.
“The normal thing is that you have to wait until the person in front of you leaves before starting your own movement. That is the norm but not that it is a rule and it is accepted in most places.
“Once an aircraft lands, some Nigerians open the hatch and start grabbing their bags and I have not been able to figure out the reason but I think it should be due to impunity,” he said.
“I think it is culture which also explains why we drive the way we do and why we act sometimes the way we do.
“It is something in our history that makes people feel that if you don’t rush out on time, you may get locked up or before the road gets blocked but this is an aircraft and until the cabin crew opens the door, nobody leaves.
“It is always a funny thing to see and you always hear the cabin crew always shouting, please sit down the aircraft has not come to a complete halt but we don’t hear that.
“There is an etiquette that goes with flying in the air and nobody has explained it enough to Nigerians and most of us are just beginning to fly.
“There are no movies and documentaries for people to watch to know about this habit and to know that if you are alighting from the plane, you allow the person sitting in front of you to go out before you do,” he said.
However, a traveller, Mrs Josephine Thomson, said that she had never rushed to get off the plane, observing that those that indulged in such act were part of the problems of Nigeria.
Thomson said that it was an embarrassment to the nation when some elderly and supposedly educated Nigerians always pushed people in the aircraft.
She said that she had to confront a Nigerian on board Emirates in Dubai for rushing and pushing people to get off the plane even when the aircraft had yet to come to a halt.
“It is quite embarrassing and I think more needs to be done by the authorities and airlines to sensitise and educate people more to the importance of this,” she said.
Another traveller, Mr Adekunle Johnson, said that it was an attitude problem for passengers who “always behave unruly to fellow passengers.
“I had an experience with a young man who was pushing people in the aircraft but eventually alighted and was no longer in a hurry to leave the tarmac.
“There ought to be enlightenment by airlines and the authorities to tell people how to behave in an aircraft.
“Air travel is an elitist thing and should be so treated instead of what is being done in Nigeria now”.
Similarly, Mr Chris Iwarah, communications manager, Air Peace, described such behaviour as simply a Nigerian thing that was not limited to only air transportation.
“Our environment has prepared us that way and it is not limited to only air transportation; some of these things are done unconsciously.
“We are always on the go to keep up with one appointment or another; some people with much baggage want to go on time to the baggage hall to retrieve their luggage and some of them are moving to join another connecting flight.
“The way to manage it is orientation and information. As the flight lands, we try to calm people down and tell them to sit comfortably and make sure their seat belts are on till the aircraft’s final stop.
“We believe that people need to hear this message repeatedly until it becomes a norm and they start adjusting their lifestyle to it.
“And also, for people to change, you too need to be patient with them to get it right,” Iwarah said.
Mr Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), supported this view, noting that the flying public needs to be educated by the airlines.
According to him, NCAA is the regulatory authority in Nigeria just as those established by other member-states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to oversee their aviation sectors.
“NCAA cannot take over the education of passengers over and above the airlines; Nigerians travel all over the world and obey the rules but when they get to Nigeria, they disobey the rules.
“NCAA officials are not inside every flight so it is the authorities of the airlines that will announce for passengers to stay on their seats until the aircraft comes to a final stop.
“If anybody defies that, the airline can hand him or her to the police or other security agencies at the airport to serve as a deterrent to others.
“We, on our part, will support any airline that takes such action and that is what we can do as the regulatory body but it is not our primary responsibility to begin to educate passengers,”Adurogboye said.
But Dr Adedotun Ajiboye, a clinical psychologist, observed that two major things could determine people’s behaviour.
“We call it nature-nurture controversy; there are some inbuilt behaviours and there are some caused as a result of the environment; so you think genetic and environment.
“There are lots of things around us that can make somebody to be impatient, for example, for you stay in Lagos, naturally you need to rush out by 4 a.m.
“You would not have done that if not because of where you are staying, even in other matters, because that has been your lifestyle even in other issues that have nothing to do with traffic.
“But because that behavior has been learnt somewhere, so it begins to manifest that impatience in other things,” he said.
According to him, the solution is for the individual to imbibe change and have a coping ability of such change in behaviour which can be achieved through counselling and shared experiences.
Ladejobi writes for News Agency of Nigeria.