Allen Onyema: Meet the peaceful man who left law to start Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace

Abu Mubarik May 07, 2024
Allen Onyema. Photo: Thisdaylive

Meet Allen Onyema; he is the founder of Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace. The Nigerian entrepreneur said he founded his airline out of his interest in creating jobs for Nigerians, irrespective of tribe.

Air Peace’s establishment began in 2007 and culminated in its founding in 2013, with the company commencing operations in 2017. Six years after it started flying, Air Peace now provides services to major cities in Nigeria as well as international destinations such as Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, the United Arab Emirates, India, China, the USA, and the Gambia.

Today, the airline is also one of the biggest in Nigeria and has a series of aircraft, including three Boeing 777s. In March, Air Peace began flying from Nigeria to the United Kingdom.

Born on March 28, 1964, Onyema, who is from Mbosi in Ihiala, Anambra State, moved to Lagos after graduating from the University of Ibadan and becoming a lawyer in 1989. While in the Nigerian commercial city, he joined a law firm, where he worked for a few years before going into real estate.

He became successful by selling land in Lekki and other expensive areas of Lagos. “By 2008, I was receiving about 18 percent interest on my deposits. I was building estates from interest alone,” he told City People, according to Premium Times Nigeria.

With his savings, he started Air Peace and later took a loan from one of the prominent banks in Nigeria.

“I brought my finances into it (Air Peace) while getting support from the banks too,” Onyema told the magazine. “When I had gone halfway with the acquisition of my aircraft, I discovered that it was more than I thought. So I borrowed money from the banks.”

Five years after its founding, the company had a staff strength of 3,000, out of which about 2,000 were women. The airline was recently in the news with fraud charges which Onyema denied. In 2022, Nigerian media reported that Onyema had been cleared of business fraud.

Aside from Air Peace, he is also a peace advocate. He was behind the first-ever Nigeria Forever Project in 2005 with the support of the Federal Government to promote broad nationalism as opposed to ethnic nationalism.

According to the Vanguard, he also assisted in persuading the Niger-Delta militants to accept the amnesty that the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua-led administration offered through his charitable organization, the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN).

Furthermore, he was instrumental in the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa in 2019 as a result of xenophobic attacks. And in 2023 when around 277 Nigerians, especially students, found themselves stranded in Sudan following the outbreak of war in the Central African country, and he assisted in a similar evacuation.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 7, 2024


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