By Jeff Okoroafor
Greatness to some people means their level of affluence and influence. To some others, it means how much power of control, connection, or network they have. But to me, greatness means humility and the ability to treat people right. This sort of greatness is divine, comes directly from God and it is given only to individuals who can effect an amazing level of change in the world they find themselves. Leaving the world much better than they met it. I saw and met one of these individuals on the 23rd of December 2015. His name is Barrister Allen Onyema, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline.
My flight was a 6:10pm flight, from Abuja to Lagos. My appointments on that very day was a truck load and I was hell bent on meeting up with every one of them – a move that made me almost missed my flight. By the time I got to the airport it was already a little after 5:45pm. I however must aver that I was a bit flabbergasted when I got to one of the front Desk Managers and Boarding Pass was still being issued. On getting to the departure gate I was told that the flight has been delayed. A well packaged apology and explanation was rendered to me, with a convincing promise that we would leave sooner than we thought. Guess who was tendering the apology and explanation -Barrister Onyeama himself, the CEO of Air Peace. He stood right there in front of the gate, expressing a heart-felt apology to everyone, telling them why the delay happened, how long we should expect to wait, and a promise that it won’t exceed the given time. The very part that got me all wound up in positive astonishment was when he advanced towards my direction in the airplane while we were on-board, gave me a handshake and told me he’s flying with me. Any other CEO would have gone for the First class seat or, if economical may choose to manage the Business Class. Not this one, he came right to the Economy Class. Don’t know about you, but I find it very noble, or should I say, humble.
The name Barrister Allen Onyema needs no introduction, especially among the bigwigs in our society. He is a man whose reputation precedes him. A cerebral lawyer, non-violence conflict manager who is majorly responsible for the peace in the Niger Delta today. Our path has never crossed. I only read about him a couple of times, especially during the late President Yar’Adua and former President Jonathan’s administrations when many bloggers and newspaper houses opined that Dame Patience Jonathan owned Air Peace Airline and put Barrister Onyema to act as a front. His acts over the years shows how God elevates a man who humbles himself and stand for humanity rather than for self.
I’m the type who pay great attention to details. When I engage frontline managers at the airport or anywhere else, I look out for the small details – the way and manner I am responded to, how genuine or otherwise the smile put on while attending to me, the adjectives used while qualifying some things, how you tell me that I’ve missed my flight or that my scheduled flight is cancelled or delayed etc. So believe me when I say this: unless a new airline comes up tomorrow with an extraordinary service system, Air Peace has the best service in the Nigerian aviation sector and one man who has made that a reality is Barrister Allen Onyema.
If you are reading this piece, my new-found friend, continue to do the good things that God has sent you on Earth to do and be sure your admirers would learn your ways and join hands in making our society, aviation sector et al, safe and up to global standards.
Okoroafor is a Good Governance Advocate and Civil Rights Activist. He is also the Founder of OpinionNigeria.com and a Strategic Team Member for the Bring Back Our Girls group.