Story by Amos Atindiga
Abuja to Lagos. I’m seated beside Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Bruce, two other Senators – one in front, the other directly behind me. Senator Melaye minding his phone the entire time he got on the plane until he raised his face and showed Senator Bruce the device, “Look at this kind of thing. Someone I don’t know from Adam. Just imagine.” Melaye’s face twitched spitefully, apparently disgusted by whatever the nameless individual wrote to or about him on social media.

With a few glances every once in a while, I caught Melaye shuttling between WhatsApp and Facebook with the dutifulness of a student preparing for final exams.
He kept at it till Cabin Crew commenced take off routines. As though suspecting rebellion, the flight attendant emphatically repeated that the use of mobile phones and other portable electronic devices was not allowed on board during take off and landing, and all phones were compulsorily expected to be switched off (not kept on flight mode).

Well, Senator Melaye didn’t think he was among the people expected to shut down their mobile devices. He kept fiddling with his phone until the plane began taxiing. Flight attendant almost screamed in exasperation, “Please sir, switch off your phone,” tired of the Senator’s rebellion, yet unable to stand there and supervise the turning off exercise because the plane was already in motion. He hurried to his seat.

Sighs. Senator Melaye nodded and continued his shuttle between social media handles. I watched in disappointment, fuming almost audibly. He cared nothing that some offensive eyes like mine peered menacingly at him, he obviously has seen worse disaffection towards his behavior. He continued typing away at his phone till the plane was completely in the air, then sent the screen to sleep and kept the damned thing close to his side like a newborn.

I hear electronic devices interfere with navigation equipment signals during take off and landing, that’s why Civil Aviation regulation requires all such devices to be turned off. This was a Senator of the Federal Republic flagrantly violating aviation regulations without a single care. He is a lawmaker, donated to Nigeria by Kogi State. We have such donations from across the 36 States of the Federation. I wonder what was taking so many of them to Lagos today. They kept hailing each other with that annoying appellation, “Distinguished!”

Nigeria, is this how we are going to continue? We must watch out for the smallest things helping to reveal the irresponsibility of those seeking public office and let them know we expect better than roguish behaviour in the corridors of power.


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