Friday, July 19, 2024


Allen Onyema, Air Peace CEO

THERE is a strong belief among business leaders around the globe that businesses should no longer be about just making money. Every business should care deeply about society. This is why we frequently now hear of corporate social responsibility.

Businesses are these days greatly concerned about social issues like inequality in society, poverty, primitive diseases, environmental protection, discrimination against women and minorities, and the entire gamut of social justice.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and David M. Rubenstein, are among those involved in the Giving Pledge, some of the world’s richest men who have resolved to give much of their wealth to charity or worthy social causes.

Nigeria’s Allen Onyema, founder and chairman of Air Peace, is easily Nigeria’s version of these globally known entrepreneurs because of his commitment to the common good.

The Lagos-London flights which his Air Peace started on Saturday, March 30, 2024, bear an eloquent testimony to his passion for the public good.

No sooner he started the lucrative routes than foreign airlines in Nigeria announced drastic reductions in their fares. The foreign carriers, however, cleverly attributed the cutbacks to the Central Bank’s clearance of a backlog of $7bn owed them and the recent marginal gain in naira value.

Interestingly, a section of the Nigerian media fell into their mind game and carried their propaganda without proper analysis. But that’s a story for another day.

As Tunde MacAlabi, the founder of the Africa International Investment and Trade Exhibition and Fair noted a few days ago, British Airways now charges N1.25m for a one-way ticket to London, and no longer N3.5m, as was the case a few weeks ago, even during the winter which is normally a low season.

KLM has come down from $1,500 a few weeks ago to $641 for a trip from Lagos to Amsterdam. Turkish Airlines now accepts N1.76m instead of N5m, to fly a passenger from Lagos to Istanbul.

The list goes on. The good news is that the slashes are on average about 50%, and the reductions may continue in the foreseeable future. All this is because Nigeria’s Air Peace is charging a mere N1.2m for the busy Lagos-London route.

The Air Peace chairman, noted MacAlabi, could have gone into a deal with foreign airlines to keep the Lagos-London fare high because of its enormous lucrativeness, but the patriot in him would not have allowed it.

Onyema used his planes in 2020 amid the COVID pandemic, when most airlines in the world were in a total mess, to lift Nigerians who were under the sustained barrage of xenophobic violence in South Africa back to the country free of charge.

He lifted 286 persons home on May 29 and 301 others the next day. He has also brought home distressed Nigerians from war-torn Ukraine and Sudan free of charge in 2022 and 2023, respectively. He has supported the Nigerian national football team without looking back. All this without regard to tribal, sectional, regional, religious, and gender differences.

Against this backdrop, Nigerians are touched deeply anytime Onyema says that his reason for setting up Air Peace was not to make money but to serve the tremendous social purpose of providing jobs for Nigerians and creating business opportunities where they could serve as suppliers and consultants.

I have attended two such meetings in Abuja in the last two years. Indeed, it was his late father, as he revealed, who made him set up Air Peace in 2012 and the following year it commenced commercial operations.

It is today Nigeria’s largest air carrier, with 38 planes. It began when Onyema’s father asked him to employ teeming kinsmen and others flooding the house for financial assistance. He took to the airline business because he already had a private jet and acquired some aircraft management experience.

It is logical to hold up Allen Onyema as a quintessential Nigerian practitioner of shared prosperity, the concept that everyone in society should benefit from prosperity.

The idea that a business should exist purely for the shareholders is now discredited. Shareholder capitalism which the likes of Milton advocated fiercely has fallen out of favour because it has created or worsened many problems in the world like the phenomenon of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

In place of shareholder capitalism, there is now stakeholder capitalism. Stakeholders in a business are not just the investors but also the workers, the suppliers, distributors, the host community, the government, and even non-government organizations (NGOs).

Among the top persons who have embraced this new thinking is Klaus Schwab, the German engineer, economist, and founder of the famous World Economic Forum whose annual meetings in January in Davos, Switzerland, are attended by thousands of top government leaders, writers, business leaders and thought leaders around the globe.

It is delightful that there are Nigerian entrepreneurs who subscribe to shared prosperity. Onyema stands out even among his peers. The new Lagos-London operations by Air Peace mean more aircraft for the airline, more direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians, and, of course, more prosperity for our people.

To repeat the obvious, the Lagos-London flights have resulted in radical reductions in fares by Nigerian travelers. The cuts mean more savings for the people and more investments in their well-being and their businesses.

The Air Peace founder truly runs a business with a soul.


Malam Abdullahi, a retired director in the Federal Public Service, lives in Abuja.







Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
Google search engine

Most Popular

Recent Comments