…Celebrates one year anniversary
LEO ALIGWO, Deputy Business Editor
Air Peace, an indigenous domestic airline operator recently marked its one year anniversary with the Chairman, Mr. Allen Onyema, reeling out gory tale of how he cheated death following unhealthy competition in the aviation industry.
Addressing guests comprising stakeholders in the aviation industry, airline’s customers, friends and well wishers that converged at the banquet hall of Sharaton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, to commemorate the occasion, Onyema said he and some senior staff of his company were saved from sudden death twice when the pilot of one of the Dornier airplanes in the Air Peace fleet that was ferrying them to Kebbi state, averted an air disaster mid air following loss of pressure.
According to him, the pilot (name withheld) had after successfully making an air return to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja ,discovered that the wind shave of the aircraft was shattered by unknown person in a move not only designed to sabotage the airline’s business but destroy lives and stop him from traveling to Kebbi state to sign a new contract with the northern state government during the period in review.
Without mincing words, he accused a Chief Executive (name withheld) of a rival indigenous domestic airline that was obviously not happy with the planned contract agreement with Kebbi State Government, of being responsible for the dastardly act that almost sent him to untimely grave.
He however said the timely intervention of the Directorate of State Security Services (DSS) that invited him to Abuja, stopped the suspect from continuing with his evil plot.
He said: “The DSS invited me to their office in Abuja, and put the ‘Chief’ on a loud speaker phone to ascertain why he wanted to terminate somebody’s life. Following interrogation, the ‘Chief’ confessed that he was not happy because he was supposed to be the beneficiary of the contract awarded to Air Peace by Kebbi State Government”.
The ‘Chief was subsequently warned to desist from evil act or face the wrath of the law, he further narrated.
In his words, “When the ‘Chief’ confirmed that he was responsible for my ordeal, I wept like a baby in the DSS office. The incident reminded me of how I wept when I lost my mother”, he said.
Continuing, Onyema, who had beefed up his personal security and that of the entire airline commended the DSS for its prompt intervention on the matter on reception of his complaint
He also commended the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for beefing up security in all the nation’s operational airports in a fresh effort to save lives and property.
The Air Peace boss revealed that the three Dornier aircraft in the fleet of Air Peace were later repaired and sold to British Airways at an undisclosed sum, reiterating that he ventured into the aviation business to save lives and create jobs in fulfillment of his vow to God when he encountered difficulties in life.
Presently, the airline which could boast of 386 workforces from 150 at inception, also has seven serviceable airplanes in its fleet, and plans to increase it to 10 before the end of this year.
Onyema, who is also a lawyer by profession, recalled his selfless contributions to the prevailing atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the Niger Delta as well as the training and rehabilitation of the former militants in area.
He used the occasion to renew his campaign for conferment of national honour on his humble self and his team for sacrificing their lives not only for peace to reign in the Niger Delta but stoppage of illegal oil bunkering in the area.
The Anambra state born peace builder and real estate manager expressed appreciation to all Nigerians who strongly stood by him during his travails, especially captains of the aviation agencies who not only offered their technical expertise advice but urged him not to close shop, saying, “I’m overwhelmed by your love, the love of the entire nation”.
Highlight of the occasion include the cutting of the anniversary cake, award to about 16 deserving staff of the airline including its crew and station managers who distinguished themselves in their various field of endeavours and the launch of Air Peace “Peace Advantage Frequent Flyer Programme by the Chief Operating Officer and wife of the Chairman, Mrs. Alice Onyema.
Mrs. Onyema explained that frequent flyer is a customer initiative designed by Air Peace to show appreciation and to continuously reward its frequent flyers for their patronage from inception of the airline’s flight operations.
Daily Champion observed that the event was a roll call of creme de la creme in the society, especially the aviation industry and media.
Prominent among the guests included the General Overseer, The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, Champion Newspapers Limited, Dr. (Mrs.) Nwadiuto Iheakanwa and her husband, Sir Uche Iheakanwa, Managing Director, the Nation Newspapers, Mr. Victor Ifijeh, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fidelity Bank Plc, Dr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Company (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, the Director, Airworthiness and Maintenance Services, Mr. Benedict Adeyelinka and the Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Ibrahim Abdulsam.
Others are Deputy President, Igbo Congress, Lagos, Charles Odunukwe, Chairman, Daily Times Newspapers, Mr. Fabian Anosike and the former Managing Director, NAMA, Mazi Nnamdi Udoh, who advised the Air Peace management to procure brand new modern aircraft for safety flight services, saying, “We don’t want mortuary aircraft in our airspace”.