NO doubt, Nigeria’s aviation sector is the most sensitive and controversial of all sectors of the economy, no thanks to the dangerous trends that have continued to place the sector in the front burner at the slightest opportunity.
For more than a week running, the entire aviation sector, the country and the global aviation community have been overwhelmed with the sad news emanating from the United States Department of Justice which has accused the chairman of Air Peace Airline, Mr. Allen Onyema, of allegedly moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through US bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.
Since the news broke, the entire aviation sector, particularly the domestic airline scene, has been thrown into uncertainty tilting towards a very dangerous black cloud hanging over the future of domestic airline operations, depending on whichever angle the unpredictable pendulum will swing to.
The US revelations, as scary as they look, however, deserve total caution from even America the originator of this news and Nigerians as the man at the centre of the storm has not been found guilty.
According to a statement from Onyema’s solicitors: “On behalf of Allen Onyema, we hereby state that he strongly denies and will vigorously defend himself against the allegations made against him by the US Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia in relation to purchase of aircraft, aircraft spares and aircraft maintenance. None of the allegations involve any third party funds but relate to his funds utilized in the airline business. There is no allegation that any bank [in the United States, Nigeria or elsewhere], company or individual suffered any financial or any loss whatsoever.
Agreed that the U.S. has its own way of doing things and therefore expect anyone or company transacting business deals on its soil to follow due diligence, but one fact is that it still does not have a perfect system; therefore, when things like this happen, it should be fair to all sides.
As the drama unfolds in different dimensions with different careless commentaries springing up from different angles with different motives, what baffles one is the volume of hate speeches being churned out by all manner of people without waiting for the two sides to reach a compromise.
As notable Nigerians have joined in the fray, even government officials are not left out of this ‘let’s bring him down’ as some use every available space to castigate and condemn him for an offence yet to be proven with government at the centre looking the other way.
The question is: at the end of this debacle, what if Onyema and the US are able to resolve things amicably, what happens to the hate speeches fellow Nigerians have spewed out?
What those behind this name callings don’t realize is that the whole world, including America, cannot run down their own in the face of any challenge the way it is done here in Nigeria and this has been the bane of the country.
In Nigeria, people are quick to run down others’ businesses based on bottled up anger over nothing but for muscle flexing and empty pride without minding the dire consequences.
The height of these reckless commentaries is that people fail to realize the harm they are doing to the aviation sector where investors are not willing to put their monies to run airlines because of the risk and the lack of support from the government and Nigerians in times of tribulations.
While no one is supporting fraudulent activities, if proven, the issue here is that rather than use the opportunity of this accusation to run down Air Peace, people should hope for the best and refrain from using the issue to score personal and selfish points.
For those running commentaries now, I wonder what they stand to gain if the airline folds up with the over 5000 workers there and their dependents thrown into hardships. Coincidentally, this group of people trying to run down the airline will also rush to cry when domestic airline business is brought down as no reasonable investor will want to have anything doing with running airlines in a sector and country where banana peels are already laid in waiting.