Nigerians Should See Diversity As Strength To Achieve Prosperity – Air Peace Boss
Allen Onyema

Stop Giving My Patriotic Gesture To Nigeria Ethnic Coloration, Air Peace Boss, Onyema, Warns

1 year ago
3 mins read

Allen Onyema, Chairman and CEO of the leading airline in Sub-Saharan Africa, Air Peace, has warned those giving his patriotic gesture to Nigeria an ethnic colouration to stop, saying he would discontinue if such should continue.

He said it pains him that his patriotic act for the unity of Nigeria is being turned into an “ethnic debacle.”

Onyema, who appeared on Arise News Morning show on Wednesday, said his offer to evacuate Nigerians stranded in the crisis-hit Sudan free of charge is being given an ethnic bent and threatened to end it in subsequent time if such acts don’t stop. “I don’t want a good gesture to be turned into an ethnic debacle,” he stated.

It would be recalled that following the outcry of Nigerians, especially students stranded in Sudan, Onyema had promised to evacuate them free of charge.

READ ALSO: Allen Onyema’s Air Peace Offers To Evacuate Nigerians Stranded In Sudan Free Of Charge

He also did a similar thing when Nigerians were stranded in Indonesia and Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic and in South Africa during xenophobic attacks.

The Air Peace boss said his willingness to carry out those acts is borne out of his profound love for the unity of the country, not for publicity and thought that doing so would encourage others to see the need to be patriotic to the nation and not to cause disunity.

He said he felt honoured to be allowed to do so and wondered why it should now be turned into an ethnic matter.

He lamented that Nigeria with about 378 ethnic nationalities has not been able to find strength in its diversity more than 60 years after independence.

“I feel personally honoured to be allowed to do that. It’s not a publicity stunt, I’ve been doing it right from secondary school to the university to actively bring Nigeria together. I believe it’s something we should all be proud of.

“I don’t want a good gesture to be turned into an ethnic debacle. It makes me uncomfortable to the extent that I might not do this again because I want to promote unity and not cause disunity. Nigeria is a country of 378 ethnic nationalities which is supposed to be our strength. The diversity we have today is an envy to all. It pains me that we have not been able to weave the country together in over  60 years of our independence.

“I do whatever I have to do to encourage people to come together to promote unity and encourage broad nationalism as against ethnic and religious nationalism which we have in this country. That is why I do it. I do it because I love this country and I believe we can be better. However, it pains me that my gesture has started causing some kind of problems on social media, people are trying to bring an ethnic angle into it.

“Those who are supporting me, the Igbo who are rooting for me that an Igbo man is going to do this and do that, please stop. Even for other people from other tribes other than Igbo who have one or two things to say, please stop. It is a Nigerian thing, not Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. I don’t want a good gesture to be turned into an ethnic debacle. It pains me to the extent that I might not do this again.” he said.

Due to intense conflict in Sudan, there are currently no flight services in the country. The Nigerian government has therefore hired 40 buses to convey the stranded citizens from the war-ravaged country to Cairo in Egypt where they would be safely airlifted back home.

Meanwhile, Onyema said he plans to deploy three jets to Egypt on Friday, as it would take the evacuees who are now on their way to Cairo, two days to get to Cairo from Sudan by road.

“I will be deploying on Friday and may be on Thursday night, I might send out about three jets to Egypt. I just pray no country will delay us over flight permit issues so that we can get there on time and start moving people out immediately. I may send in about three planes at a time so that evacuation can take place. It will start on Friday,” Onyema stated.

The Air Peace CEO also spoke about challenges in the airline industry, noting that it is not worth celebrating. He, however, said he expects that the incoming government will improve the ease of doing business, adding that operators in the industry are mostly moved by passion and patriotism, not mainly for profit.


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