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Kudos to Allen Onyeama


Managing Director of Air Peace airlines, Allen Onyema

Sir: I have just seen the video in which Allen Onyeama, chairman of Air Peace Airlines, broke down in tears inside the aircraft he had dispatched to bring some Nigerians back home from South Africa.

Onyeama had apparently gone into the aircraft in Johannesburg to welcome his fellow citizens on board, but he was greeted with spontaneous cheers and adulations from the appreciative passengers. They soon broke into our national anthem and sang excitedly.

Overcome with emotions, Onyeama wept. He took pity on his compatriots for their loss, suffering and humiliation in South Africa. The chairman was moved by the good cheer and fortitude of his passengers in the midst of their vicissitudes. What manner of kindness, humility and compassion! It is so emotional. 

Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. – Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on September 11 following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries. A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

I wish to thank Onyeama for being his brothers’ keeper and for his sacrifice. By his decision to help, Onyeama made Nigeria and Nigerians proud, as he gave hope and love to his needy compatriots. He has demonstrated a keen knowledge of corporate social responsibility. Onyeama deserves a national honour and a mention among the heroes of this nation.

It is however a surprise that other corporate organisations have not yet followed the Air Peace example by extending a helping hand to these beleaguered Nigerians. Where are the banks, breweries and even the oil companies? Who are managing their CSR for them, and why can’t they see that this is an opportunity for them to act as a part of the community they operate in? Good CSR initiatives create endearment for corporate organisations and help build brand loyalty.

Onyeama’s spontaneous response to this problem is commendable. I can only hope that the returning Nigerians have now realised that no matter how difficult things may be, their country is still the best. They should now appreciate this country better than before. The love of one’s country is a sacred civic duty. At the end of the day, your fatherland will always stand by you.  

Etim Etim, a journalist and banker, wrote from Uyo.

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