Allen Ifechukwu Onyema is a Nigerian billionaire, lawyer, businessman, philanthropist and the CEO of Air Peace airline, a private Nigerian airline that offers scheduled passenger flights and charter services. He is a conflict resolution expert and the founder and National Chairman of The Foundation For Ethnic Harmony In Nigeria (FEHN) and is the only Nigerian with level-three certification in Nonviolence education, from the University of Rhode Island.
Allen Onyema is more notably celebrated in Nigeria today for his philanthropic, selfless gesture of offering Nigerians in South Africa a free return flight back to Nigeria during the xenophobic act in South Africa in September 2019 via Air Peace. True to his words, he sent an airline to South Africa which was frustrated by the South African government before finally being allowed to take Nigerians with complete papers.
This post talks about the biography of Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Air Peace CEO.
Allen Ifechukwu Onyema Biography
Allen Ifechukwu Onyema (born 1964) was born in Benin City in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria to parents who are native of Mbosi town in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, South East region of Nigeria. He is the first of nine (9) children and attended several primary and secondary schools including St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Azia, Urhobo College Effurun and the prestigious Government College Ughelli. He left Government College in 1984, having obtained his Higher School Certificate and was directly offered admission to study law at the University of Ibadan, the same year. He attended the Nigerian Law School between 1987/88 and was called to bar in 1989.
His parents and an uncle had wanted him to work for Shell after Law school. He, however, rebelled against their stand as he did not want to remain in Warri. His uncle, Capt. J.O.W. Onyema, a master marina, who was the head, crude oil export terminal at Forcados then had a fair amount of influence to see that he got into an oil company but Allen Onyema had other ideas; he never wanted to remain under the guidance of his parents and as such rejected the decision of working for Shell and sought a solo life which saw him move to Lagos in 1990 in search of a job.
Allen Onyema squatted in Oshodi, upon arriving in Lagos. He could neither afford taxis nor buses and so opted to going to Lagos Island by rail just so he could practice his law profession.
Two months later, the late Chief Vincent Amobi Nwizugbo gave Allen Onyema the opportunity to come to his chambers on Martins Street, Lagos Island to learn, pro bono. However, it was not long before he was placed on a monthly salary of N500 after winning a high court case regarded as ‘bad’ for the firm.
The late Chief Vincent Amobi Nwizugbo trusted Allen’s abilities so much that he made him the head of chambers under two years he joined the firm. By this time, Allen Onyema had become big in real estate so he sought another life and had to resign so as to avoid conflict of interest in his dealings. He left and floated not only his own law firm but several other successful businesses.
Allen Onyema: Conflict Resolution Expert
It was at the University of Ibadan that his appetite for peace made him lead a group of 9 other students to travel to the ancient city of Zaria to quell a raging religious and ethnic riot that claimed lives. As a result of the publicity he and his colleagues received on return to their campus, their enthusiasm grew and this led to the formation of a group known then as Eminent Friends’ Group – a group formed with the objectives of promoting ethnic harmony amongst Nigeria’s diverse ethnic nationalities and fighting the incidence of violence of all forms in our nation.
On graduation from the University in 1987, he established branches of the Organization in all the States of the Federation. While in the Nigerian Law School in 1987, he combined his studies with social activism bothering on engendering peace in Nigeria.
The organization, today, has grown to become the Foundation For Ethnic Harmony In Nigeria (FEHN) with Allen Onyema as the founder and National Chairman. In addition, he is the only Nigerian with level-three certification in Nonviolence education, from the University of Rhode Island.
How Allen Onyema Started Air Peace Airline
Allen Onyema started making money in 1990 in the Law Firm of Nwizugbo & Company where he first practiced his law profession and rose to become the Head of Chambers by 1992. He resigned from the law firm to establish his own firm and an import trade outfit- Continental Business Links Ltd. By 2008, he had made so much that his interest was what he was spending on real estate. He was persuaded by a friend who reliably informed him that owning one commercial Boeing 737 could give jobs to over 150 persons. Allen Onyema wanted to create job opportunities and he embraced the idea after discussing it with his wife. In 2013, Air Peace was born.
Allen Onyema’s Family
Allen Onyema married his wife, Alice Ojochide Onyema, a beautiful Kogi lady from the Igala tribe in 1993, at the age of 27. He ventured into early marriage shortly after his mother died of kidney failure in 1991. Allen Onyema and his wife are blessed with four children; a girl and three boys.
Allen Onyema Net Worth
Allen Onyema estimated net worth is $500 million. Although the value of Air Peace aircraft is more than that, they are said to have been bought via bank loans which he confirmed in an interview in 2018. Allen Onyema reportedly ordered 30 new aircraft in April 2019 estimated at $2.1 billion, taking the total number of fleet owned by Air Peace to 33.
17 Fun Facts about Allen Onyema
- He considers himself a ‘true Nigerian’ owning to his childhood and education (he is Igbo, from Mbosi town, in Anambra who was born in Benin City, had his primary and secondary school education in various schools in Delta State, studied law at the University of Ibadan, lived in Abuja and Lagos and married an Igala woman from Kogi state.)
- He is the CEO of Air Peace, a private commercial airline in Nigeria.
- 7 of his aircraft are named after his family. The executive jet has Michael (his dad) on it. One Domier 328 jet has Helen (late mum) on it. The other Domier 328 has Ojochide (his wife) on it. The first four B737 have on them names of his 4 children namely; Nnenna– after his first child and daughter, Chinonso– after his first son, Obinna – after his second son and Ugochukwu – after his last son.
- He is a conflict resolution who is on a mission to diffuse ethnic tension in Nigeria.
- He freely and willingly offered his aircraft to bring back Nigerians in South African during the September 2019 xenophobic attack which saw South African nationals target Nigerians and other Africans living in South Africa.
- He is a highly detribalized Nigerian who believes there is no Igbo, Hausa, Fulani or Yoruba and this philosophy applies at Air Peace.
- He started Air Peace out of his passion to create jobs for Nigerians and not for the profit.
- Contrary to claims that Patience Jonathan owns Air Peace, Allen Onyema has never met with the former first lady before and has come out to state that he has no affiliation with the former first lady who is commonly referred to as ‘Mama Peace’.
- He is the first of 9 children.
- He waded into the Niger Delta region at a time when nobody dared, using his funds to sponsor youths to the Nonviolence training and transformational programme long before the Oil Companies, Government and International Community began to partner with him and invest in his training programmes.
- In 2007, a friend told him that one commercial Boeing 737 could give jobs to over 150 persons. So, he went into Commercial Aviation with his wife just to create jobs for the people. According to his interview with City People, he said, “If it was about profit, I would have kept the money in the banks and be getting double-digit interests on my investments.”
- He named his airline Air Peace same with others of his business concern.
- He came to Lagos in 1990 in search of jobs with no money on him.
- He squatted in Oshodi and couldn’t afford taxis or buses; he would go to Lagos Island by rail. Going back to Oshodi, he would trek from Marina to Iddo to join the overcrowded trains. He wanted to practice his profession as a lawyer.
- He left Government College in 1984 having obtained his Higher School Certificate and was directly offered admission to read law at the Nigeria’s Premier University, The University of Ibadan in the same year.
- It was in the University of Ibadan that his appetite for peace made him to lead a group of nine other students to travel to the ancient city of Zaria to quell a raging religious and ethnic riot that claimed lives. As a result of the publicity he and his colleagues received on return to their campus, their enthusiasm grew and this led to the formation of a group known then as Eminent Friends’ Group – a group formed with the objectives of promoting ethnic harmony amongst Nigeria’s diverse ethnic nationalities and fighting the incidence of violence of all forms in our nation.
- On graduation from the University in 1987, he established branches of the Organization in all the States of the Federation. While in the Nigerian Law School in 1987, he combined his studies with social activism bothering on engendering peace in Nigeria.