Allen Onyema is a Nigerian businessman, whose name was recently registered in the hearts of millions of Nigerians as a result of his uncommon patriotic act.

In September 2019, during the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, the Chairman of Air Peace endeared himself and his airline business to Nigerians when he offered to use his aircraft to evacuate victims of xenophobic attacks from South Africa.

That philanthropic and patriotic act introduced the Air Peace founder and Chairman to millions of Nigerians as a man of peace, who deserves the highest honour in the country.

When outstanding Nigerians will be receiving awards in recognition of their achievements in December, nobody would be surprised if Onyema gets the man of the year award. Scratch that. The award may not happen again due to the financial fraud allegation leveled against him by the government of the United States of America.

One of the seven aircraft belonging to Air Peace. (PremiumTimes)
One of the seven aircraft belonging to Air Peace. (PremiumTimes)

However, while the most prominent information about Allen Onyema in public domain is associated with his airline business, there are other things that may interest you about the man who named his seven aircraft after his wife, kids and parents.

1. His early days in Lagos

Everybody, who had a cause to move to Lagos from another part of the country has an unforgettable story to tell about how they came to the city. Onyema is one of those whose reasons for coming to Lagos has something to do with seeking greener pasture.

The US government has issued arrest warrant for Air Peace CEO, Allen Onyema [Twitter]
The US government has issued arrest warrant for Air Peace CEO, Allen Onyema [Twitter]

In an interview with City People, the businessman narrated how he coped with the familiar plight and frustrations of newcomers in the state.

He said, “I left for Lagos in 1990 in search of jobs. No money on me. I was squatting in Oshodi. I couldn’t afford taxis or buses; I was going to Lagos Island by rail. Going back to Oshodi, I would trek from Marina to Iddo to join the overcrowded trains. I wanted to practice my profession as a lawyer.

For two months, I was searching for a law firm to join to no avail. I became frustrated but came alive when the late Chief Vincent Amobi Nwizugbo gave me the opportunity to come to his chambers on Martins Street, Lagos Island to learn.

2. Peace keeping initiative

Onyema’s appetite for peace did not start in September 2019, when he volunteered his aircraft to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa during xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the country.

As an undergraduate studying Law at the University of Ibadan, Onyema reportedly led a group of nine students to Zaria to quell a raging religious and ethnic riot that claimed lives.

3. Resisted parental pressure to work for Shell

Many Nigerian graduates have a dream of working for an oil company irrespective of their academic background. The young Onyema had the opportunity to start his career at Shell but rejected the idea.

My parents and my uncle wanted me to work for Shell after Law school. My uncle, Capt. J.O.W. Onyema, a master marina, was the Head, Crude Oil Export Terminal, Forcados then. That meant that I was going to remain in Warri and, that, I never liked. I wanted to be free. I felt that working in Warri would still keep me under parental care and control but I wanted to be on my own”, he told City People.