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Xenophobic Attack And The Respite of Air Peace

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ElevateNews takes a look at the emotion and provision by government and CEO of Air Peace as Nigerian returnees from South Africa landed at MMIA.

The CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema said that he deliberately set aside N280 million to airlift Nigerians who were willing to quit South Africa due to xenophobic attack.

On Wednesday, the first batch of the returnees landed in Nigeria amidst jubilation. Onyema said that by volunteering to bring back the Nigerians, the dignity of Nigeria as a country has been restored, opined that other African countries whose nationals had faced xenophobic attack in South Africa would learn from Nigeria.

He told journalists that this gesture was not his first and that he would not hesitate to do more to send signals to South Africa that the Nigerian Government is capable of helping its nationals.

To him, everything is not all about money, adding “we cannot go to the grave with our purse or our bank accounts, except the legacy you leave behind.”

To me, Onyema has shown that Nigeria can be a better country, irrespective of its diverse ethnic groups and languages. He has assisted the government and more than 200 ethnic nationalities that formed Nigeria.

In other hand, Onyema’s gesture has rebranded Air Peace. More Nigerians, especially the families of those who came back from South Africa will not blink to patronize the airline. I will equally do.

Air Peace has done its bit but this may not be enough for the returnees who will have to start a new phase of life. They arrived in Nigeria and began to sing the National Anthem. I wish they knew that Nigeria is not better. Here, we face the problem of banditry and kidnapping; Boko Haram insurgency and outright killings by herdsmen. But things can be better as the government puts all efforts to ensure peaceful living.

The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP will only do the profiling of the returnees, after which they will be asked to go to their different homes.

Experience has shown that some of the Nigerian returnees from their countries of sojourn do not have shelter back home anymore. Investigation revealed that many of those who left this country to seek greener pasture elsewhere sold their property and personal belongings to get tickets.

Some of the Nigerian returnees from South Africa may have to face this daunting challenge since there is a little the Federal Government can do now.

The Chief Executive of the Nigerian In Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa announced to the returnees that the government had a plan to integrate them into the society by providing soft loans for them to start small businesses.

The officials of the Bank of Industry were around at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos to pledge their support to the returnees, about 187 of them.

The government provided for them N40, 000 worth of call cards and gave to each of them the sum of N25 000 as transport fare to their various destinations.

Perhaps this xenophobic attack may be a blessing in disguise because it has suddenly erased the thought of secession from the minds of some Nigerians.

Even when it is obvious that most of the returnees are from Igbo extraction, they now see themselves as Nigerians and not people of Biafra.

Before now, many members of the Igbo ethnic group abroad had always agitated for the Biafra Republic but the xenophobic attack has in a way reoriented them. The fact that all the ethnic groups that made Nigerians from South Africa rose at their arrival to sing the song of unity, the National Anthem, goes a long way to rejig the country for a better tomorrow.

What the government needs to do is to provide the enabling environment for all Nigerians to live together in peace and unity.

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