Allen Onyema: A Brand With A Golden Touch

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At a time many Nigerians were trapped amidst the recent heated xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the walls seemed to be closing in on some of them who had had enough of torture as all hopes seemed lost as to how to escape the carnage, one Nigerian stood up and said ‘Enough is enough’. He then offered to evacuate his fellow citizens out of the Johannesburg’s show of shame and perfidy. The man’s name is Allen Onyema, Nigeria’s emerging world-class business personality brand who currently bestrides Africa’s aviation space with his fast-growing airline, Air Peace.

As a testament of his golden heart and sheer patriotism, Chief Onyema carried out an unprecedented feat in the history of Nigeria when he single-handedly evacuated 506 traumatised Nigerian victims from South Africa in what remains one of the largest peace time repatriation of Nigerians from anywhere in the world. The feat not only earned Chief. Onyema wide commendations globally, it also bagged him a legislative honour as the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila invited him to the plenary where the honourable members gave him a standing ovation and immediately recommended him to the Federal Government for higher honours in Nigeria. The elated Air Peace boss who couldn’t hold his emotions at the gesture of the people’s representatives said: “You have brought tears to my eyes again. I have never been so honoured in my life.”

Chief Onyema (Left) exchanging pleasantries with the Speaker of the Federal House of Reps, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila at the speaker’s office recently.

Arguably, Chief Onyema’s decision to voluntarily evacuate victimised and troubled Nigerians from South Africa without charging a dime is a feat that no one has ever accomplished in Nigeria even as he said recently in an interview that the feat cost him N280 million. Chief Onyema’s selflessness and patriotism sets a historical landmark that will remain indelible in the sands of time. Thus, BRANDPOWER sees in him a true golden icon.

Before Air Peace came on board in 2013, not quite many Nigerians knew Chief Allen Onyema. But in the space of six years, the man had made the airline the delight of many Nigerians and this feat has shot him to the limelight. Air Peace, not only offers reliable passenger and charter services, it also serves the major cities of Nigeria and flies to several West African destinations and the Middle East.

The Air Peace boss, Chief Allen Ifechukwu Onyema hails from Mbosi town in Ihiala Local Government of Anambra State, Nigeria.  He was born in Benin City, Edo state in 1964 to a disciplined family from Anambra State who instilled patriotic and exemplary values of life in him. He is the first of nine children; sadly, his mother departed the world at the age of 44 in 1991. Being a lawyer by profession, Chief Onyema is a consummate businessman and conflict resolution expert. In recognition of his sterling qualities and contribution to humanity, the 10 towns in Ihiala Local Government conferred on him the prestigious traditional title of Ide (Pillar) of Ihiala.

Chief Onyema while addressing the honourable members at the plenary.

He began his early life in Benin and later moved to Warri, where he attended several primary schools. He also attended St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Azia; Urhobo College, Effurun and Government College Ugheli where he graduated in 1984 having obtained his Higher School Certificate. He proceeded to study law at Nigeria’s Premier University, The University of Ibadan in the same year. While at the Ivory tower, Chief Onyema led a group of nine others to form a group known then as Eminent Friends’ Group. On graduation from the University in 1987, he established branches of the Organization in all the States of the Federation.

At the Nigerian Law School in 1987, he combined his studies with social activism focused on engendering peace in Nigeria. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989 and began his legal practice in 1990 in the Law Firm of Nwizugbo & Company. In 1992, he rose to become the Head of Chambers. Shortly, he resigned from this law firm to establish his own outfit ONYEMA & CO. Later, he established a property Company of Allen Onyema & Company and an import trade outfit- Continental Business Links Ltd. The Air Peace boss was appointed to the Executive Board of The Global Nonviolence Conference Series Inc. USA with notable world leaders such as Hon. Dr. Andrew Young and Suarez Ramos as members. By this appointment which was confirmed in April 2007, Chief Onyema became the second African ever to be so appointed to the Global Board.

By 2013, Allen Onyema had garnered enough financial muscle from his businesses and appointments. He thought of how to create jobs for his fellow Nigerians and decided to float the Air Peace airline which has since become the biggest in Nigeria with 23 aircraft in its fleet including three Boeing 777 jetliners. The airline offers very competitive fares and flies into the major airports in Nigeria, in addition to Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It takes extraordinary humans to accomplish extraordinary things. Chief Onyema’s act undoubtedly raised a new vista for Nigerian youth and lifted hope for a better and greater Nigeria. If Nigeria has a few more Allen Onyemas in our time, ours will be a country of immense progress and development. We join a grateful Nigerian citizenry in celebrating a special Nigerian personality brand in Chief Allen Onyema as we name him the BRANDPOWER Golden Icon for this week.

Samson Oyedeyi

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