The report of last weekend’s indictment of Mr Allen Onyema, chairman of Air Peace airlines by the US Department of Justice in the Northern District of Columbia came as a shock to me as it did to many other Nigerians. To say I am sad would be an understatement. I tried valiantly to understand the indictment. The claim was that Onyema laundered over $20 million from Nigeria through the United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents on his purchase of aero planes that are yet to be delivered.
Onyema has swiftly responded that all he did were above board and he actually went through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for all his transactions. “The allegations are unfounded and strange to him. Allen Onyema has a track record built on honesty and integrity and will take all necessary steps to clear his good name and hard-earned reputation. He looks forward to an opportunity to rebute these allegations in court”, his lawyers wrote on his behalf. His accusers are however undaunted by what is considered mere bravado. They are unrelenting and are looking at the possibility of extradition. They also did not dispute that he went through the CBN for his transactions, only saying that documents tendered were false. Since the incident happened, I had thought long and hard on the issue and I kept asking myself what would happen at the end of the day.
Would the airline boss go to jail, I gathered that if found guilty, he could spend over 100 years in jail, God forbid? What would become of the airline that has assumed the role of the National Carrier which we have always planned to have but which have been all motion and no movement. There is no gainsaying the fact that since the airline came into the aviation landscape, it changed the scenario completely.
It became one of the most reliable if not the most reliable. It came with newer aircrafts, it was timely and with more routes. It displaced its predecessor airlines such as Arik, Dana, Aero in operations. It has and is still moving many Nigerians from one point to the other both within and outside the country. Imagine what would happen to the aviation industry if Air Peace ceases to exist. As it is presently, airlines in the country have consistently found it difficult to cope with the influx of air travellers within the country, hence the delayed or cancelled flight that have become a hallmark in the industry and which incidentally, Air Peace with its advent into the country has helped in ameliorating. What would happen if we have problem with that airline. There have been speculations that we may not get to that sorry pass as it has been said that Onyema would relinquish his chairmanship of the airline while he clears himself.
That is okay, but would that solve the problem, I doubt because he is the soul of that airline, he is the power behind the giant strides of the airline, I can bet that once he is out of that seat, all we would see is a gradual slide into distress by the airline. A troubled Air Peace will signal unquantifiable number of job losses, both directly and indirectly. Do we need that at this time when we have a growing population of the unemployed? It is thus imperative that the government takes a hand in this matter. It is important to save Air Peace and by extension Onyema. Some people are going to disagree especially on the last part. The opinion would be if Onyema was found complicit, he should be made to face the music, forgetting that almost every Nigerian have cause to forge one thing or the other. We forge our age, we forge documents and obtain under false information. Our people have been weaned on falsification of information for official purposes. What we probably do not see as a big deal here is different over there. But we need to forgive Onyema if he had erred, we should also look at the bigger goods and the contribution of his airline to the economy of Nigeria.
Re: 14-year old Queens College girl, mother on my mind.
The blame still goes to the mother in its entirety. I am sure this girl was not the first to run foul of these laws in that school. Why has her own case turned sour. I am of the opinion that it was the posture of the woman that led the staff to video. They must have done that to gather evidence in case the woman decides to make a case out of it. Even, while the poor girl was sober, her mum was still combative. She is a bad woman. Some other women would have gotten the poor girl out of the problems without such drama. In any case, why would a good woman allow her small girl to engage in such a cosmetic life at that stage? She failed the poor girl and perhaps her family
– Bayo Ogunyemi
Good and objective analysis. Let’s even assume that the ‘innocent’ girl went to a wedding party on weekend, how on earth could any responsible parents allow their 14-year old daughter to have such eye-lashes and finger paints to a party? Again, not removing the dirt before resuming school? Not good enough. I do know that adult ladies who are such fashion crazy always remove all unusual adornment before resuming work or go to their shops on Monday after weekend pleasure and partying. Lastly, every responsible parent have telephone numbers of their children’s teachers, head teachers, principals or proprietors. The mother, if she felt she and her daughter were right or unduly molested, could have called any of the handlers of her girl and not resort to physical fight with the gatemen who could also have been given extra authority to disallow improperly dressed students.
I pity the girl really for the trauma and I know she won’t do that again even if her mother tells her to do so. No, we should not support her expulsion or suspension so that she won’t miss classes but she can be punished to serve as deterrence to her and others. Let her write: ‘I’ m beautiful enough so I won’t adorn my body with artificial eyelashes, finger paints and break the rules when coming to school again X 100, 000, 000 (remembering the type of punishment I hated most in those days of my primary and secondary school –Comrade Adeola Soetan shaming people on the internet when they are wrong or perceived to be wrong is never gonna solve any problem
– Jennie Blossom Eyah.
Honestly sir, you’ve said it all, this society has lost its moral compass and there is a blurred line between the good and the condemnable, we shouldn’t force adulthood on these children, why fix lashes and paint her nails when you know she has to return to school on Monday and why not remove those things when she was returning, gone are the days when your parents will flog you after you have been corrected for doing something wrong at school or in church – I actually like your position concerning how the situation should have been handled on the part of the school. Nice write up
– Sarah Temitope
Welcome back to your beat, Bolaji Tunji. I can relate quite well with the innocent girl because I attended Federal Government College, Ogbomoso which is also a unity school like QC. I can also relate with her and her mum because I have a 14-year old daughter, just like her, in another Federal Government Girls College. The rules and regulations are quite strict – for the good of the children. From reports, the girl was just reporting to school two weeks after her colleagues resumed from mid-term break, which means something must have gone wrong somewhere.
When these children – yes, they’re children – are resuming, the school authorities check them properly at the point of entrance – their bags and all, to prevent them from bringing contrabands to school- their dressing, their hair and all that. So, ideally, if a returning student dresses wrongly, it is the parents that should be held responsible.