By Hon. Rotimi Makinde
In the early hours of Wednesday 13th of September 2019, I needed to honour an appointment on Lagos Island. I weighed the option of going to the Island in my car, the stress of driving from Akute to Victoria Island overwhelmed my heart, passing through the abandoned Alagbole-Ajuwon bridge was what I wasn’t prepared to experience after my initial sorrowful encounter with a heavy vehicular snarl few days ago when I had to spend about two hours from Alagbole Ajuwon road to Ojodu Omole, a journey that shouldn’t ideally be more than five minutes if we are responsible enough to ourselves as a nation. But what have we not done to convince the immediate-past governor of Ogun State to understand the need to see neighbouring communities with Lagos as a priority in areas of development? One can only hope that the new performing governor can look into that direction. The idea to use the Lagos State commercial bus was damned wonderful and very encouraging. Hence, I chose the best option by leaving my vehicle and found my way to Berger Bus Stop in Lagos to join the very neat LSTC bus.
This jolly experience availed me the opportunity to appreciate God the more and the idea of meeting my fans and admirers in the bus was very wonderful. Many were asking me and saying – are you not acting again? So you too can also join a public bus? And so on, and so forth. To the best of my ability, I guessed I was able to set the record straight that I am still very much into acting. I told them that I played a major role in a movie now in the cinema, *”The Shadow Party”*. I actually did align with the likes of Famous Omotola Jolaade, Jide Kosoko, Segun Arinze and others. I also disclosed to them that I remained a major political player in my state, Osun, and that no big deal in being humble enough by going out in a commercial bus. What amazed me most is the gist from the people in the bus. I was there sitting in a corner when this beautiful Yoruba girl, more like a model, began the conversation saying, “if this man that owns Air Peace Airline is not yet married, honestly, I would have loved to give myself to him without any dowry. I just love him for this good gesture from him. Just Imagine, he is donating his airline to evacuate our people from this xenophobic dominated area of South Africa”. The topic was the subject of discussion all through the smooth journey to the Lagos Island. The commuters spoke about several politicians, naming them one after the other. They lambasted some pastors who, according to them, are making fortune from innocent congregation and failing in their social responsibility duty. One elderly woman sitting with me narrated how she lost a fortune in the traffic along Lagos-Ibadan Express road. According to her, She had secured a contract to cater for some wedding guests on a Saturday in Ibadan. She packed her food and her staff to head to Ibadan from her Lagos base and set for the journey by 7a.m. for an appointment of 2pm. She couldn’t get to Ibadan until 8pm! That was after the wedding reception had ended and the newly-married couple had left for Abuja. She said, she lost almost all her capital and never again could she continue with that line of business. In her final remark, she wondered why the likes of the Mountain of Fire Ministry (MFM), the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and other churches along the Ibadan-Lagos Express road cannot solely provide towing vehicles to help in evacuating faulty vehicles that mostly cause traffic jams on the road. She had not finished her statement when another passenger interrupted her that the Association of the Vehicle Towing Drivers would not allow such a good gesture to succeed. They talked about many billionaires who, according to them, are richer than this very wonderful man that I have chosen to celebrate today. He is no other person than the amiable Chairman of Air Peace Airline, Allen Ifeanyichukwu Onyema, who is, no doubt, the man of the moment.
Following the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, Onyema on the 11th September, 2019 volunteered his Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft for the evacuation of Nigerians who got stranded in the ungrateful land of South Africa back home.
This singular act was a monumental relief to the affected victims in South Africa. Of course, this gesture can only come from a man with a large heart who feels the pains of his fellow human beings and derives joy in assisting the needy at any point in time. This world would have been a better place for all if only every other highly placed individual can follow this route by giving a helping hand to others. GOD has a way of rewarding good deeds.
Onyema is an exceptional philanthropist of note and our prayer for you on this special day of yours is to live long, remain blessed and continue to increase in the service to God and humanity in the mighty name of the most high.
The message however here, is for other wealthy Nigerians to emulate the kind gesture of Onyema by vowing to make this world better than they met it. This is possible by forming the habit of being our brother’s keepers in all fronts. Is it not funny enough that some people either drive or pass by while seeing their fellow human beings writhing in pains as a result of auto-accident! Experience over time has shown that constant exhibition of neglect towards fellow human beings is a common feature in this country today. All privileged Nigerians should make an Onyema out of themselves by way of redistribution of wealth.
Time was in this our country when illgotten currency notes kept in either soakaways, water tanks or buried in farmlands while the people were wallowing in abject poverty were discovered by eagle-eye security officers.
It is advisable not to procrastinate the willingness to add value to your brother’s welfare and comfort.
The time should be now.