Nationalism: loyalty and devotion to a nation.
We all learnt the meaning of this word in our primary and secondary schools. But putting this word into action? The idea is rather lost to a majority of us, I included, because well, we’re Nigerians. That should tell you everything you need to know. For this reason, a man like Barrister Allen Onyema would appear rather alien to most Nigerians.
And just who is Barr. Allen Onyema?
He is an Igbo man, hailing from Anambra state. He was born the first out of nine children to Micheal and Helen Onyema in 1964 in the city of Benin. He got his primary school education in Warri and Benin; and for secondary school, he attended several schools including Government College, Ugheli where he got his Higher School Certificate in 1984. He would go further to study law at the University of Ibadan in 1984.
At the University of Ibadan, my good man and nine other students, traveled to Zaria to quell an ethnic and religious riot that claimed many lives. This resulted in their fame on their return to campus leading to the formation of the Eminent Friends group; a group focused on promoting ethnic harmony amongst the diverse ethnicities in Nigeria.
After Law school, he rejected a job opportunity presented by his parent to work for Shell. Reason being that he wanted to be independent of them. (All I can say here is omo. I’m not this much of a risk-taker. Ahan.)
He left for Lagos in 1990 in search of jobs and as always, the process was brutal.
But as the saying goes, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Luck would shine on him after two months as he got a job to work in the chambers of late Chief Vincent Nwizugbo. He wasn’t placed on a salary at first because the first months were to be probational.
This however changed quickly when he won his first case for the chambers. The case had seemed rather bleak for as he was up against a SAN and three other lawyers. On winning this, he was placed on a five hundred naira salary. Barrister Allen Onyema would go on to become Head of Chambers in two years.
While he worked at the chambers, he was introduced into real estate and he made quite the money from this. To avoid conflict of interest, he resigned and started his own law firm as well as other businesses.
He established Onyema & Co, a law firm; Allen Onyema & Company, a property company; and Continental Business Links Ltd, an importation outfit.
(Note to self: If you want money, work.)
Attaining success in his businesses did not deter Allen Onyema from being a peacekeeper. He founded the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN) which was instrumental in bringing peace to the once-troubled region of the Niger Delta.
In 2013, Air Peace was created as a private airline. Allen Onyema founded Air Peace with the aim of massive job creation for Nigerians and so far, more than 3000 direct and 10000 indirect jobs have been created.
Today, Air Peace provides services to major Nigerian cities and countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, India, China, United Arab Emirates, USA, and Gambia. It is one of the biggest airlines in Nigeria with three Boeings 777.
In the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South Africans in September 2019, Air Peace was instrumental in evacuating hundreds of Nigerians back to the country. A highly laudable effort.
Barrister Allen Onyema has shown himself to have the best interests of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart. Striving for peace and a better life for his countrymen.
Indeed, not all heroes wear capes.