The chairman of Air Peace has asked youths to develop strong faith in their country and explore the diverse opportunities that abound in it.
The Details: He said this after he was honoured with the 2019 Humanitarian Service Award at the Trinity House, Victoria Island for his decision to allow his airline airlift stranded Nigerians in South Africa for free.
Recall that Onyema shed tears after 189 Nigerians were safely flown home by an Air Peace plane due to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa, triggered by the death of a South African cab driver reportedly killed by a Tanzanian drug dealer.
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The Air Peace boss said his decision to airlift stranded Nigerians could be likened to his passion and vow to God. He advised youths to be selfless, and patient in the pursuit of their dreams.
“This country is blessed. All you need to do is to exercise patience, trust in God and exercise your brain a little bit. I am giving you a business secret here. Find that which is very challenging. Look for challenges people don’t have solutions to and be the first person to proffer solutions to them and you are on your way to becoming a billionaire,” he said.
His role in curbing militancy: While he faulted ethnic divide as a reason for Nigeria’s lack of development, he said this was not his first time of demonstrating selfless service in helping Nigerians. He recounted how he tried to battle militancy in the Niger Delta.
“In 2005, at the height of the Niger Delta militancy, only 500,000 barrels were being produced for a population of over 180 million people. I told my staff that this militancy issue, I must fight it,” he said.
He narrated how he wrote a letter to an institute in the United States to train him and 22 members of his staff on how to go about the situation, adding that despite gaining admission, the US embassy in Nigeria denied them visas.
Onyema said he followed up with another letter to the institute and requested that the training be done for them in Nigeria. The training was successful as it had 250 people in attendance.
“After that, we went into the creeks. It was a difficult assignment to confront people that the military had not been able to handle and in a terrain that was not good. My message of peace arrested them. It was when Shell saw what we were doing that they came in.
“That was when money started coming in; something that we never bargained for. Chevron joined and everybody joined. The American embassy started visiting me in my office and I even got an award in the US.”
Reeling his achievements, he disclosed that 503 Nigerians had been airlifted from South Africa. He also added that the airline was awaiting the Federal Government’s orders to evacuate more.