The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, in an Interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday said his willingness to evacuate Nigerians stranded in war-torn Sudan for free is not a publicity stunt but born out of the love he has for Nigeria.
“I feel personally honoured to be allowed to do that. It’s not a publicity stunt, I’ve been doing it right from secondary school to the university to actively bring Nigeria together. I believe it’s something we should all be proud of,” he said.
However he denounced both supporters and detractors who have brought an ethnic slant to thd intervention.
“I don’t want a good gesture to be turned into an ethnic debacle, it makes me uncomfortable to the extent that I might not do this again, because I want to promote unity and not cause disunity,” he said.
Onyema said Nigeria’s ethnic diversity is envied and should be a strength.
“Nigeria is a country of 378 ethnic nationalities which is supposed to be our strength. The diversity we have today is an envy to all. It pains me that we have not been able to weave the country together in over 60 years of our independence.
“(I do)whatever I have to do to encourage people to come together to promote unity and encourage broad nationalism as against ethnic and religious nationalism which we have in this country. That is why I do it. I do it because I love this country and I believe we can be better.
“However, it pains me that my gesture has started causing some kind of problems on social media, people are trying to bring ethnic angle into it.
“Those who are supporting me, the igbos who are rooting for me that an igbo man is going to do this and do that, please stop. Even for other people from other tribes other than igbo who have one or two things to say, please stop.
“It is a Nigerian thing, not igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. I don’t want a good gesture to be turned imto an ethnic debacle. It pains me to the extent that I might not do this again.” he said.
Meanwhile, Onyema also announced that planes will be deployed to Sudan on Friday, as it would take the evacuees who are now on their way to Cairo, two days to get to Cairo from Sudan by road.
“We are planning to deploy on Friday. I wanted to do it today, if possible but I was told it will take two days to get to Egypt from Sudan by road and last night they told me the buses had left. I wanted to deploy this night.
“On Thursday night, I might send out three jets to Egypt. I just pray no country will delay us over flight permit issues, so that we can get there on time and start moving people out immediately. I may send in about three planes at a time.”
Also speaking on some of the challenges faced by the airline industry, the Air Peace CEO stated that he expects that the incoming government will improve the ease of doing business in the airline industry, noting that the current situation is not worth celebrating.