Long before the news of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa became public knowledge, the much people knew about Mr. Allen Onyema was the fact that he is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of one of Nigeria’s leading private airline companies, Air Peace.
Typical of most private business operators, we thought all that mattered to people like Mr. Onyema was simply how to maximise profit, expand his business frontiers and put in place necessary measures that would keep his business safe and healthy in a peculiarly challenging business environment like ours. But we were completely wrong for blanketly categorizing him as one of those shrewd private sector players whose major motivation in business is to make huge profit, at times by all means possible.
But by choosing to be exemplary even without being prompted or coerced, Mr. Onyeama has indeed altered the erroneous perception that business people suddenly become contemplative when discussing philanthropy, and that they only put their money into ventures that would advance their business interests. Mr. Onyema’s action has, to a large extent, put a lie to that incorrect assertion.
Same way most Nigerians were outrightly enraged and distraught by what many have described as premeditated, sustained, unprovoked and malicious attacks on innocent Nigerians living in South Africa by some local criminals who serially launch attacks on black foreigners for some senseless reasons, so was Mr. Allen Onyema, founder of Air Peace airline.
But unlike others, he didn’t just lament, wail and condemn the inhuman and degrading treatment that his fellow countrymen were being subjected to, he thought of how to possibly assist in providing succour to these Nigerians who have suffered both human and material losses in the madness that occurred in the rainbow nation. Truly, It takes a man who has abundant love in his bossom to express real love to others.
Instead of turning a blind eye or feeling unperturbed by the unfortunate experiences of our brothers and sisters in South Africa, and possibly become critical of government and accuse it of being insensitive to the plight of its citizens in foreign lands, he volunteered to deploy a B777 air craft belonging to his company, Air Peace, to airlift all stranded Nigerians in South Africa who are willing to return home free of charge!
This is indeed a rare act of patriotism and humanity that should be acknowledged and celebrated by all. He knew it wasn’t his responsibility as a citizen to coordinate efforts to evacuate stranded Nigerians in South Africa, but the humanity in him took a better part of his mind the moment he ruminated over the issue. He didn’t put the tribe, religion, political or ideological leanings of these stranded Nigerians into consideration before he offered to help them out of the precarious situation they were in. He chose to look beyond those divisive and narrow considerations that often guide our conducts in this part of the world.
Mr. Onyema’s patriotic gesture quite resonates with Nigerians who are genuinely committed to building a country where love, unity, peace and social justice will reign supreme. We must be deliberate in our resolve to strengthen the bond of unity that holds us together. For us to realize our national aspirations and other strategic goals, it is important that we dwell more on those things than join us and focus less on those that divide us. This is simply the clear message in Mr. Allen Onyema’s rare act of human kindness.
Ultimately, like Mr. Onyema has demonstrated, we must not find ourselves in public offices or be extremely wealthy before we can contribute our quota towards national development. The little acts of patriotism and kindness we do unnoticed are the bricks we need to build a rock-solid, united, indivisible and great nation that we always talk about. May God bless Mr. Allen Onyema and his entire team.
Yunusa writes from CRD, FHA, Lugbe, Abuja. [email protected]