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Monday, 14 July 2014
Air Peace clears air on ownership
It is absolutely insulting of the person of our respected Barr. Allen Onyema and, outrightly sad and disheartening to those who know him very well for any sane person to insinuate or allege that he is a front for anybody in whatever guise. We cannot forget, in a hurry, Allen’s disobedience of a presidential order because he never wanted to enrich himself unjustly. I shall address this in this write-up later.
Allen is a success story and a role model for all in this country. His success is a testimony to the power of integrity in all human endeavour for he is an epitome of integrity.
Since he delved into the turbulent business of aviation through his floating of Air Peace Airlines, a business he created to give jobs to the teeming unemployed citizens of our country, so many stories have trailed this enviable vision of his. The allegations range From the ordinary through the bizarre and to the absurd! Who is really afraid of this Airline?
His humility is immense and this, more than anything else, is a major contributory factor to the unfounded allegations that he is fronting for anyone using Air Peace. His adversaries could not imagine that a man is very solid yet not loud. But those who know Allen would testify that he had, since 1992, been very successful in business, real estate and law practice.
By 1995 when some of his detractors were still unsure of their future, Allen had already owned vast estates in Lagos and other cities in the country! This was before he veered into the business of Nonviolence Conflict Management with which he contributed majorly to the peace we have today in the Niger Delta.
At first, it was said that the Airline was owned by the First Lady, Her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan with Allen as a front. Along the line, the former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah’s name came up. The rumour was everywhere while Allen has never met, in his life, both women. Timi Alaibe was also named as the owner of Air Peace. Now, it is Kingsley Kuku, with the writers stating that “we can now tell you authoritatively that the Airline is owned by Kuku and not Patience Jonathan”! The last May not have been heard, more names are expected.
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The fact is, Kuku never brought Allen Onyema into the Amnesty Program. Long before Kuku’s appointment, Allen had already been a major player in the program. There is no other organization in the entire Africa that is involved in the Kingian Nonviolence Transformational Training of violent people except Allen’s FEHN! His organization has always been the obvious choice because of its track record of expertise in handling people of violent disposition.
He made history in Obubra Cross River State where for over a year he held the place down for his nation, making sure no life was lost there. It is the first time in the history of DDR worldwide that a single life was not lost in a camp containing over 1500 rival ex combatants at any given time. He handled the transformational program of the entire 30,000 ex militants registered under the amnesty in Obubra. The role played by his group was attested to by the international community that visited there on the strength of their belief in this Nigerian! He could have lost his life in Obubra, it was a dangerous assignment. Kingsley Kuku was not the SA then. Kuku didn’t give him this job!
Allen was charging the Nigerian Public N269,000 and over $5,000 per attendee for his 5days local and international training programs respectively in 2005 and these figures were advertised in the newspapers then. Forms for his programs were distributed in UBA branches nationwide and applicants registered through the banks then while in 2010, 5years later, at the Amnesty Program, he was paid N110, 000 per person for a 2week intensive program with all the risks attached! Where then is the corruption here?
Blackmail and Pull Him Down syndrome, obviously, have become Nigeria’s fastest and most lucrative businesses and pastime while leveraging on the opportunities presented by the internet through the blogs. The authors of these deliberate and malicious falsehood may never know peace in their life except they repent of their wicked ways. If the authors and their sponsors expect to be settled, they may have failed woefully because the Allen, we all know, does not succumb to blackmail or intimidation. Allen Onyema, like him or hate him, stabilized the amnesty program in so many ways. Besides his Obubra feats, he provided first class training facilities abroad at a time the program was short on quality centers.
Allen has secured 50 pensionable employment in the middle east for the trainees that passed through him. These people are now earning respectable living as a result of his efforts.
Allen prosecuted Obubra with over 250 former restive youths of the Niger Delta trained and transformed by him before the coming of the amnesty program. It was his strategic employment and deployment of this set for use in Obubra that did the magic over there! This is a man the country should celebrate and not malign. Who is afraid of him? The target of course was to rubbish Kuku’s monumental efforts in the eyes of the unsuspecting public.
He was accused of getting choice contracts from the amnesty office through his friend, Kingsley Kuku, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters. He was also accused of “bankrolling Obama’s campaign just to have a photograph with the first family”! Is this not madness on the part of the author?
Let it be known that long before the amnesty program, even before Yar adua became President, as far back as 2004, Allen Onyema, a lover of peace, had started making impact in bringing about social change in the country singlehandedly using his organization, which he founded and funded, The Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN). He traversed the 36 states of Nigeria preaching peace, unity and harmony to the elite and the grassroots alike.
He held the 1st Nigeria Forever Project in 2004/2005, a project that took him and thousands of his followers to every state in Nigeria with him as the sole financier! Most of the Emirs and the late Sultan Maccido hosted him respectively as a mark of their appreciation for his efforts. Why didn’t the authors of this falsehood raise eyebrows then about how he got the money to spend willingly for the good of his nation? Were the millions expended then by Allen Onyema from an amnesty program that never was?
By 2005, he decided that violent militancy must give way to intellectual discourse. It was in this year, that he invited Americans from the University of Rhode Island Centre for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA, led by one time aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr Bernard Lafayette Jr, to train him and his numerous staff in Nonviolence Conflict Management so as to, adequately prepare them for the task ahead – the onslaught against violent militancy in the Niger Delta. This was at the height of militancy in the region. Was their amnesty then?
He started training youths all over the country in Nonviolence principles and practices. He took the philosophy to the Niger Delta and started training youths and militants. He took them abroad for further trainings. As at this time, was their amnesty?
Was he also drawing the immense funds expended on these endeavors from an amnesty fund that never was in 2005? Allen is God-sent to this country. His ways astound ordinary human understanding and these carriers of falsehood must repent and apologize or reap the consequences of their wickedness in the hands of God Almighty. No one does evil to him and lasts even though he prays for them!
It was not until 2006 that Shell, on noticing the impact being made by one man for his country, contacted Allen to allow them bring militants from their host communities for this training. Allen refused to admit Shell’s candidates for that particular program on the ground that they were late for registration. He had closed registration for his program for that month. Which Nigerian could resist an obvious partnership, with all the promises it held, with Shell? It is only a man of integrity who didn’t want to over populate his program for the love of money. He later allowed Shell, whose officials were dumbfounded by his impressive attitude, to send in ten restive youths in the next program. The obvious impact of his program on this Shell’s ten, led the oil company to send a further 23, then 60, 100 until it exploded and became a monthly affair for Shell!
Yes, Shell bankrolled him in hundreds of millions of Naira then. Chevron, on Noticing that the program was making waves and changing lives of hitherto violent persons, keyed into Allen’s world too. They were all paying for both the local and foreign programs of Allen running into millions. Was their amnesty then?
Afren, another oil company, also joined in patronizing him. The Akwa Ibom state government under Victor Attah paid him several millions to train youths of the region to both local and foreign programs. These entities and the international community took notice of his efforts and supported in several ways. Diplomatic missions were predicting the end of militancy as a result of his program. They all were enthusiastically visiting his training of these militants for first hand witnessing of the revolution he was engendering in the region.
Then came the final straw – the training and transformation of 600 restive youths from the various camps in the region then by the federal government of Nigeria through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). This was in 2007. As a result of the reports reaching the Presidency then about the impact of Allen’s program in the region, Timi Alaibe was instructed to appeal to the militant leaders to allow their wards go for this transformational program and this happened. He never knew Timi then but he searched him out and the rest is history.
At a time during this program, President Yar’ Adua was told that he was training them to come and destroy Abuja and the villa. Timi was summoned and told to stop the program. When he reminded the President that over N600 million was already paid to Allen and his foreign partners, he opined that “he could go with the money but no more programs”.
This was communicated to Allen who never accepted to use the money for himself but for what it was meant for. He disobeyed the president and assembled 110 ex-militants to be taken to their advanced training in South Africa. Him and all of them were arrested at the MMIA Ikeja, an arrest he expected and welcomed happily.
It was his refusal to unjustly enrich himself that led the then President to wonder, just as Shell did, “who is this Nigerian who has refused to take cheap money for himself but elected to spend it on what he believed in?” The President, as a result, set up another panel to investigate his activities. The outcome of that investigation pleased the President who ordered a resumption of his programs! This is the same man being accused by morons of being a front for Kuku.
Was there amnesty then? No. In all this, Allen’s program was the only one trusted within the country and outside the country as a genuine one and the only one capable of arresting violent militancy. The impact in the region was tremendous and overwhelming. Allen was the only choice amongst the multitude of both foreign and local organizations.
So why the fuse that he even got some jobs during Kuku’s present tenure as the Chairman of the Amnesty Program when he, in fact, as a result of proven track record, was enjoying a welcomed monopoly of jobs in that regard ever before Kuku was appointed? Every job given to him under Kuku was based on merit. Every office saddled with issues concerning management of violent people seeks out Allen Onyema, Kuku is not alone.
All the oil companies in Nigeria came together, set up an SPV called OGI ( Oil and Gas Industry Foundation) to help in supporting total stamping out of violent tendencies in the Niger Delta after the proclamation of Amnesty. They created a common fund running into millions of dollars. Their obvious choice again was Allen Onyema and his organization! He was paid in foreign currency to undertake the Community Outreach Program of the OGI in the entire region! Was this choice contract from Kuku’s amnesty office? Kuku was not even in office when this lucrative job was given to him by the oil companies.
In all, Allen Onyema has never, to date, sought or applied to any of the above mentioned patrons to be given job. They all sought out Allen and invited him, including the amnesty program. So What has Kuku done wrong for anyone to insinuate that Allen Onyema was fronting for him? Allen Onyema is far bigger than this airline! What has Kuku done for Allen and his companies that other entities had not done before him? Anyone who craves success in this area of endeavour seeks Allen Onyema out. FEHN is almost near indispensable to this end.
Allen Onyema’s FEHN, till date, has a running contract with Shell. His company handles Community Relations Interface for SPDC. This contract has been on for over 5years! Is this also Amnesty program?
The success of his transformational programs on violent militants emboldened the President in proclaiming Amnesty for the militants for he believed they could be contained and changed for good by good spirited souls like Allen Onyema.
Allen Onyema owns Air Peace 100% and this could be verified! Those peddling these rumors have never bothered to find out if banks are involved in his setting up of the airline. Their target is obviously Kingsley Kuku. It is now a crime to be a friend to someone in office and seem to be so successful!
Adversaries should not smear Kuku’s name because his friend is floating an airline, an endeavour such a friend is far bigger than. Allen has been what he is ever before Kuku’s emergence as the SA. A situation where malicious allegations are given prominence in our nation will soon cause the expected monumental harm than good. If anyone disagrees with Kuku, go settle it with him and not try to mess with the names of those who have variously touched lives of those less privileged in our mist to an unimaginable heights of which the names of Kuku and Allen are to be found at the highest rung of the ladder.