Thursday, May 30, 2024

Allen Onyema deserves commendation rather than condemnation

The social media has been buzzing over the giant stride made by Air Peace breaking the glass ceiling by flying to London. This remarkable accomplishment is something to shout about. All well-meaning Nigerians should applaud his giant stride in threading where renowned airlines are bestriding.  

This in route crashed the cost of flight from Nigeria to London, that’s what happens when an enterprise chooses to break the power of monopoly. As I look forward to their launch into other international routes, it is expected that the cost of international trips will continue to crash. Kudos to Allen Onyeama and Air Peace team.

While the progressives are hailing the triumph of Air Peace, the retrogrades are casting pebbles on Air peace and their CEO, Allen Oyeama. What crime have they committed to warrant the viral criticism? They have accused him of ethicising his airline and questioned why the members of his crew wore Isi Agu fabric in their maiden flight.

Some said the dressing of the crew should have represented the ethnic groups that we have in Nigeria. I wonder how he will be able to achieve that with the number of ethnic groups that we have in Nigeria. Even if they had said that they should have represented the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, I wonder how the members of the crew would appear wearing different traditional blazer.

If these critics are intelligent they should have been patient with Allen Onyeama, afterall the London route is not the only destination that has been “conquered” by an indigenous airline. There are several other nations and a few airlines in Nigeria that could take those giant strides. Maybe then, the CEO of the airlines will also choose to use other Nigerian traditional fabrics in their maiden flight to such countries. Sadly, many are myopic and don’t see beyond their noses.

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country and our goal should be to de-emphasize our differences and jettison commentaries which seek to put a knife in the cord that binds us together as a nation. Caustic conversations which seek to pitch the Igbos against the Hauses or the Hausas against the Yorubas or the Kanuris against the Ijaw should be jettisoned and individuals who seek to fan into ember the flames of ethnocentrism should be publicly upbraided to drive home the point that we’ve gone beyond parochial dispositions and practices.

It is also very necessary for the leadership of the country to issue statements against those who seek to divide us. If they remain complacent over issues of unity, then the country may snowball into a genocidal crisis in decades to come. The Rwandan genocide between the Hutus and the Tutsis wasn’t a sudden occurrence; it began with words! One ethnic group referred to the other as cockroaches in their cupboards and before long they chose to kill the cockroaches. This was how it turned to a genocide.

In today’s Rwanda nobody toys with ethnic politics or such conversations. It attracts a prison term. Today, people of different nationalities go to Rwanda to see where the history of the genocide has been preserved. Many who went there wept. The movie Hotel Rwanda told half of the story of the Rwandan genocide.

The piece is not about the Rwandan genocide but to draw the attention of Nigerians to the debilitating effects of ethnic “politics’’ and ethnocentrism. Identifying with the camp of the attackers of Air peace and Allen Oyeama is tantamount to identifying one’s self as a retrograde. The time is right to remove the lenses of ethnic bigotry and see with the eyes of a nationalist.

Nnamdi Abana writes in from Abuja.

April 2, 2024.

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