The following account took place on my flight from Abuja to Rome via Frankfurt on the 5th of November 2022 to attend the Annual General Meeting [AGM] of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization billed to take place in Rome on the 12th of November 2022. With jet lag in the offing, and despite my hectic campaign schedule, I wouldn’t miss out on the NIDOE AGM, an organization that retains a special place in my heart, having served selflessly from 2013 – 2020 first as President at the National level [Germany] and subsequently as Continental Chairman Board of Trustees at European level.
All hell broke loose when about 3 hours into the flight, a young Nigerian developed a life-threatening medical emergency. Before the flight attendant could ask for any medical personnel on board, a young lady who I later learned is a medical doctor based in Atlanta (seated directly behind me) dashed with lightning speed to the young Nigerian and like a field marshal on a battlefield took control of every (and any) medical facility on board. Oxygen masks, temperature measuring instruments, sugar-water, Coca-Cola, and everything she could lay her hands on. Not even the presence of Dr. Chris Ngige, who surprisingly showed an excellent example by heeding the urgent call to help out with the life-threatening emergency, distracted her for one minute as Commander-in-Chief of Flight Rescue Mission and supported by the Army of Nigeria Medical personnel on board.
The Lufthansa flight crew did excellently in its crisis management to support the Nigerian medical crew led by the Angel on board, who practically kept vigil beside the young Nigerian throughout the rest of the flight monitoring his health condition.
I have never been so proud to be a Nigerian and a Diasporan. The LH595 Germany flight crew from Abuja to Frankfurt showed the actual quality of made in Germany, another reason to be proud, having spent my entire 28-year professional life in Germany and represented Africans in the Hamburg Senate Advisory Council in Germany. They complied with the directives of the Nigerian flight medical marshals while keeping all passengers calm and safe on board. As we safely arrived at Frankfurt Airport, I went to the Angel on board and a great Nigerian Diaspora with tears almost welling up in my eyes to say ‘thank you, Ma’ to this brilliant, resourceful doctor for saving life & for making us proud as Nigerians and as Diaspora. Deep down, I expected to see our Labour Minister come back to check in on the young in-flight patient and to commend the brilliance of the Nigerian doctor that saved a Nigerian life aboard a flight he was spotted and recognized as a sitting Federal Minister. Maybe empathy is not the Nigerian politician’s strong suit.
As I walked away to my connecting flight, the words of Chinua Achebe rang a bell in my ears – “There was once a country” that was the pride of the world. Where did we get it wrong? Then I began to reflect on Mr. Femi Odere’s recent article; ‘Nation like Nigeria’; it’s befuddling, to say the least, that the country’s diaspora population, which has been documented to have the highest percentage in higher education (professional) among global Diaspora population are not given any place in the country’s foreign policy formulation, not to talk of being factored into her sustainable economic development paradigm“.
It was not an accident to be on board Flight LH595 from Abuja to Frankfurt: It was not an accident to have Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, a medical Doctor and the current Minister of Labour and Employment of Nigeria, on that flight. The action of the Angel on Board is an explicit confirmation for me that the time for the great Diaspora return is now to help lift our country from bad governance, political corruption, and nepotism. I am happy to take this step of faith by returning from Diaspora to run for the Senate, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to represent not only Delta North but also the Diaspora constituency, to be the voice of the Diaspora. I will not rest until the Diaspora Voting Right Bill is passed so that Nigerians can enjoy (the benefits of) quality representatives with global Diaspora experience, competence, authenticity, and integrity for a robust and effective representation of our people.
These and more are my solemn pledge to the good people of Delta North, and I will take advantage of the such global network (Angels on board) for partnership and next level development in Delta North for the well-being of the Anioma nation. Thank you, Angel on Board and all Nigerians and crew that showed immense solidarity until our brother was evacuated alive from Flight LH595.
Nigerians are indeed great people, and Nigeria is indeed a great Nation, and together, we will take back our country. The future is NOW.
Kenneth Chi Onye bu Ogwua Gbandi, Senatorial Candidate, African Democratic Congress (ADC) Delta North, Nigeria, writes from Flight LH595 enroute Frankfurt (05/11/2022)