The House of Representatives, yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari, to confer a higher national honour on the Chairman of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema, for his role in the evacuation of Nigerians in South Africa in the wake of the present xenophobic attacks.
Consequently, Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila directed the Clerk of the House, Mr. Patrick Giwa, to write a letter of recommendation to President Buhari for the award, and a letter of commendation to the management of Air Peace Airline.
This followed the adoption of a motion by the Chairman, House Committee on Army, Abdulrasak Namdas, on the need for the government to honour Onyema for his patriotism.
Namdas, in his motion, noted that the Air Peace boss released his aircraft to convey Nigerians during xenophobic attacks in South Africa, at no cost, not minding that no member of his family was affected.
The House also showered encomiums on the businessman for his patriotism, which lawmakers described as worthy of emulation.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, while welcoming the Air Peace boss, commended him for the initiative in evacuating Nigerians from South Africa at his own personal cost.
Onyema expressed appreciation to the House for the honour, noting that he had never been so honoured in his life.
The Air Peace boss said his decision to evacuate Nigerians in South Africa was a spontaneous decision, which he took in order to respect and dignify the country
“Mr. Speaker, you have drawn tears to my eyes again. I have never been so honoured in my life. I remember two days ago, the speaker got my number from one of you, Nkiruka Onyejeocha and called me. Even if I wasn’t invited here today, you have done me an honour. It was a spontaneous decision to do this. I was not doing it for publicity. I thank you all for allowing me to come and address you this morning.
“I’m very happy to announce to you that that singular act has brought a lot of respect to Nigeria. I know the implication of what I have done, but I don’t give a damn if the lives of my compatriots are saved,” he said.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 319 Nigerians fleeing from xenophobic attacks arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, yesterday from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
The returnees were brought back aboard an Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft that left Lagos on Tuesday.
The flight was earlier expected on Tuesday, but was delayed for several hours due to inability to get landing permits from South African civil aviation authority.
No fewer than 817 Nigerians are expected to be evacuated from South Africa due to attacks on foreigners.
The first batch of 187 Nigerians were brought back last week.
Chairman of Air Peace, Onyema while appearing at the House had commended President Buhari for the matured manner he handled the issue saying “the evacuation would not have been possible if my country did not allow me. I call on government to look at the plight of those who have lost everything they have worked for.”