Arik Air is currently on life support at the intensive care unit of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON for short…out of over N352.5 billion debt owed by Arik Air over N147 billion belonged to AMCON…There are reasons for the big fall of this promising enterprise..Below are seemingly unimportant ,but weighty reasons behind the crash of Arik.
(1)Arik Air began its journey into coma when Dr Martins Arumemi-Ikhide, the first son of the erstwhile Chairman of distressed company was employed and placed on a daily salary of one million Naira only. His total monthly take home pay was N30million Naira monthly and this was never delayed or unpaid for one single day before the AMCON hammer.
The funny thing was that Dr Martins Arumemi-Ikhide, Jnr never occupied a non position in the company as the airline did not exactly know or designated him as a staff of Arik Air. He just occupied an office in the headquarters and was referred to as “Chairman Pikin,” by staff. He did absolutely nothing but earned more than the hardworking staff of the company.
(2)This was a company that increased staff salary only once by ten thousand Naira in 2008 in its entire ten years of operation. Staff pensions were NEVER paid nor taxes remitted to the Pension funds Administrators or Revenue service. Staff were owed upwards of seven months in unpaid salaries. As we speak, staff are yet to be paid backlogs of salary arrears dating back to 2016.
(3)The management style of the CEO, Sir Arumemi-Ikhide was aristocratic. For him charity begins abroad. He littered Arik Air with expatriates, so much that visitors think the company is located in Europe.
Indians were his prime target. The least paid Indian expatriate goes home with a monthly salary of $6,000 while a Nigerian on same level and doing same job, gets a meagre salary of N250,000 after tax and this is often times delayed for months.
(4)The Chief Commercial Officer at Arik Air is one Suraj Sundaram from India. Boots on ground said he has a reputation for being uncouth, ill tempered, abusive and rude to staff. He called Nigerian staff “Idiots” during meetings, inter alia.
Suraj Sundaram was paid jaw breaking figure that enabled him to rent a choice self service apartment in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos. His Indian wife, who was not an employee of Arik Air, was equally on the payroll of the company and together they lived large, milking the company dry. They were chauffeur driven, given free choice medicals, fed free and got bogus rotations of working in Lagos for one month and the next month off at their homes. Meaning, as expatriates they work for 6 months and get 6 months off in a year and but are paid for 12 calendar months.
The story of Arik International is the same!
(5)For several years, the London office occupied an entire office floor in a choice location in central London. This is a London office where ONLY ONE flight is despatched daily but Sir Arumemi-Ikhide and his prodigious son, Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide operated in a choice area hobnobbing with headquarters of five star companies quoted on the London stock exchange. This of course, depleted foreign reserve savings of the company because of the aristocratic and false lifestyle this family adopted.
(6)The marabatos and Arumemi-Ikhide’s spritualists were not left out of the largesse. Being an acclaimed Catholic, his favourite was cardinal Olubunmi Okogie whom he usually dedicated a private jet to fly to Rome at short notice, all expenses borne by Arik Air Ltd.
It didn’t end there. He gave strict instructions that his spiritualists covering the Lagos and Ibadan areas were given bullet proof Prado or Lexus Jeeps and their apartments furnished with unending supply of weekly diesel for generators. All expenses, still borne by Arik Air Ltd.
His friends, spiritualists, political associates and kinsmen all FLEW BUSINESS CLASS FOR FREE irrespective of destination. While Arik staff paid as much as N200,000 for so called staff tickets in economy on the same flight.