The House of Representative Committee Chairman on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, has lauded the decision of Air Peace Airline to freely airlift Nigerian victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa back home, saying the airline’s Chairman/CEO, Chief Allen Onyema gave help to Nigerians when it was needed most.
Nnaji, however, demanded that the Federal government assists Air Peace in defraying the huge operational cost of airlifting the over 700 Nigerians who have reportedly registered with the Nigerian High Commission to leave South Africa.
Nnaji, who described the gesture as patriotic said, Onyema’s investment of resources in the free airlifting of the stranded Nigerians demonstrated “a true spirit of Africanism which compels us to be our brothers’ keeper.”
According to Nnaji, other corporate citizens should emulate the gesture of Air Peace Airline that sacrificed their aircraft, fuel, pilots and cabin crew for the South African round-trip, by assisting the returnees to settle down since several of them have lost their means of livelihood to the senseless attacks inflicted on them by the South Africans.
Nnaji who represents Nkanu East/West federal constituency in the House of Representatives, however, said there was the need for the Federal government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to immediately get in touch with the South African authorities to address the hiccups being experienced by the airline in the airlift operations.
Said he: “l understand that the first flight brought barely half the expected number of people it would have brought due to the demands of the South African Immigration officials. They want our people to leave their country, why making it difficult for them to go?”
He regretted that the development led to several hours of delay before the flight eventually took off with about 187 passengers as against the 340 it could have brought, adding that such delays were an added cost to the airline’s not-for-profit flight to and from Johannesburg, South Africa.