Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline, Chief Allen Onyema, has said there was never a time he called those agitating for separate nations cowards.
Onyema was reacting to a news report in a national daily (not Vanguard), titled, “Onyema Blasts Secessionists as Cowards”. In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, the Air Peace boss described the report as misrepresentation of facts.
According to him, the headline of report was different from the body, thereby making it possible for other news blogs to interpret the newspaper’s false headlines to mean IPOB and other agitators.
Recall that a news publication had on Thursday, reported that Onyema, while speaking in Lagos at the 25th League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, conference, described those calling for break up of Nigeria as cowards who could flee the country at the slightest opportunity.
He maintained that he never called members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Yoruba nation agitators, cowards, as he was only canvassing for peaceful resolution of issues in the country, and urged the Federal Government to address concerns of the agitators.
He said, “I never called IPOB or anybody cowards. What I preached in that forum was peace and for people to eschew violence. Yes, IPOB, Yoruba nation or Arewa have their reasons for doing whatever they are doing. So, we shouldn’t go into bickering or into outright condemnation. All we should do is to look at why they are agitating and try to bring them to discussion table and address the issues. And I believe the country will be better for it at the end of the day.
“So, I’m not here to condemn IPOB or to praise them, neither am I here to praise Sunday Igboho nor to condemn him. I’m also not here to condemn Arewa group or to praise them. What I always preach to everybody, be it Arewa, Yoruba nation or IPOB or any group at that matter, is peace. It is not in my character to condemn people. All I’m preaching is let peace be given a chance. Government should address those issues they were complaining about.
“I was only encouraging people in every part of the country to eschew violence because those who do violence are cowards. Those that are cowards are those who do armed robbery, suicide bombing, kidnapping, and banditry amongst other violent crimes because they can’t brace up with their situation and tackle it peacefully.
Continuing, Onyema, who was instrumental to the dialogue with the Niger Delta militants that culminated in the federal government’s amnesty programme, added, “I am not saying there are no injustices in the country. We want a country where justice, equity and fairness actually 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 own quota. What I did in the Niger Delta, no government did it, not even the international community. Nobody gave me an iota of belief that this could happen without arms. Nobody ever knew that Niger Delta issues would come to an end at the time it happened.”
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