YOUTHS from all over the country have commended the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema for spending about N.3 billion on their two-part nonviolence and peace training in Lagos and the United States of America, describing him as God’s gift to Nigeria.The youths, consisting of Arewa, Oodua and Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) made the commendation at the end of their two-week nonviolence training at the Emory Center for Advancing Nonviolence, Emory University, USA and urged other well-to-do Nigerians to emulate Onyema’s patriotism and selflessness to guarantee peace, unity and development in the country.
Onyema’s non-governmental organisation, The Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN) had earlier mobilized about 50 youths from the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Arewa Youths and IPOB to Lagos for the Level 1 Nonviolence Training and Conflict Management Programme.
The one-week training conducted by a former aide of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Dr Benard Lafayette and his team of nonviolence experts from America, held in September 2017 after the Air Peace boss embarked on a peace mission to IPOB and Arewa groups in the heat of the October 1 quit notice Arewa youths issued Igbo living in North.
Onyema had said the training was part of his contribution to the quest for unity and ethnic harmony in Nigeria, promising to send the participants for the Level 2 Nonviolence Programme at the Emory Center for Advancing Nonviolence, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA to equip them with the necessary skills to campaign for peace in Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of the participants at the end of their two-week training at Emory University in the US, leader of Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative (ATEI), Mohammed Danjuma said: “In every generation there are a handful of people who are defined as a gift to their nation; people who positively impact their generation directly or indirectly through selfless acts of generosity and a magnanimous penchant for peace. Barr. Allen Onyema fits that particular set of gifted individuals for this current generation.”
He described their training in the US as a “life-changing experience that left a huge imprint at the conclusion of the programme. It has exposed me to a new way of life, new approaches and principles never known to me before.”
He pledged to use his new skill to influence his group and other youths in the country to embrace peace in their agitations.
“I believe being agent peace, there is no other way than spreading this new-found knowledge from person to person, thereby affecting the society and in turn the nation. As head of the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative, we rubbed minds when we got back from the programme and came up with building a project to bridge the gap between all tribes of our country.”
For her part, Director of Global Independent Pan-African Youth Parliament, Ms. Ifunanya Kanonye said: “Barr. Allen Onyema is an angel God has used to touch many lives and I have heard about him a lot through one of his proteges. He is a special breed. If we had two of his type in Nigeria, there will be no problem. People like him are only seen once in a century.”
She pledged to ride on her training to encourage reconciliation in the country, saying: “Attending the Kingian Nonviolence Programme was an eye opener for me. The programme has really changed my approach to matters.”
Also speaking, Secretary General of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Fulani Association, Mr Saleh Kuba Hassan said Nigeria needed more people like Onyema to change the country.
“We rarely see individuals like him who take up such challenges against what people might see as fruitless ventures. We see that he has the selfless character needed for the nation’s progress and we believe in his ideas,” he said.
Director of Programmes and Public Affairs of FEHN, Joy Imeli, who led the beneficiaries to the US, however, urged them to make good use of their training.
Her organisation, she said, was relying on the beneficiaries to spread the culture of peace and nonviolence across Nigeria.