Chief Allen Onyema, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline, has finally reacted to a statement that he called those agitating for separate nations cowards.
Onyema was reacting to a news report in a national daily (not Abacity Blog), titled, “Onyema Blasts Secessionists as Cowards”. The newspaper also claimed that Onyema made the comment while speaking in Lagos at the 25th League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, conference.
In an interview with Vanguard, the Air Peace boss described the report as a misrepresentation of facts by those who were bent on tarnishing his name.
He said: “I never called IPOB or anybody cowards. What I preached in that forum was peace and for people to eschew violence. I was only encouraging people in every part of the country to eschew violence because those who do violence are cowards.
“The cowards are those who do armed robbery, suicide bombing, kidnapping, and banditry because they can’t brace up with their situation and tackle it peacefully.
“So, I never called agitators cowards because not everybody that says I want to secede is violent. I also didn’t use the word IPOB or Yoruba nation or Arewa.
“Therefore, there is no way I could have called those doing agitation cowards. I didn’t. I only called for peaceful resolution of issues.
“It was one newspaper that screamed a headline, ‘ONYEMA BLASTS SECESSIONISTS AS COWARDS’ that started these false stories. Their headline was different from the body of their report. Other blogs then gave their interpretation from this newspaper’s false headlines to mean IPOB.
“Why didn’t other newspaper and media houses present at that conference carry this falsehood? It is obvious that some people yet unknown are out to destroy my name because this is the third time in three weeks that I have been accused falsely of either blasting’ Kanu or IPOB.
“I am a non-violence expert and as such, I do not engage in name-calling. I don’t know what the authors of these stories stand to gain. However, one thing is certain, I will always pursue the cause of peace in this country for I believe I am doing God’s work.
“Yes, IPOB, Yoruba nation or Arewa have their reasons for doing whatever they are doing. So, we shouldn’t go into bickering or outright condemnation.
“All we should do is to look at why they are agitating and try to bring them to the discussion table and address the issues. And I believe the country will be better for it in the end.
“So, I’m not here to condemn IPOB, Sunday Igboho, Arewa group or to praise them. What I always preach to everybody, be it Arewa, Yoruba nation or IPOB or any group at that, is peace.
“It is not in my character to condemn people. All I’m preaching is let peace be given a chance and for the government to address those issues they were complaining about”, he stated.
“I am not saying there are no injustices in the country. We want a country where justice, equity and fairness reign, no doubt about that. But we can address these issues peacefully.
“I will like to be an instrument of saving this nation from crisis because I believe that one doesn’t need to be a president or governor to contribute their quota. What I did in the Niger Delta, no government did it, not even the international community.
“Nobody gave me an iota of a belief that this could happen without arms. Nobody ever knew that Niger Delta issues would come to an end at the time it happened.”