Founder, Air Peace Airline, Chief Allen Onyema has said that he began his business from the money he made as a land agent selling lands in Alagbado, a suburb of Lagos state.
According to Chief Allen, when he was called to the Nigerian bar in 1990, his parents wanted him to work in Shell and not practice law.
He stated this on The Morning Show on Arise TV cable station on Monday.
He said, “I prayed to God to give me the capacity to touch lives and help people. In my family we don’t worship wealth, and that has been my guiding philosophy in life.
When I was called to bar in 1990, my parents wanted me to work in Shell. I had to rebel against their decision. Although it was a tough decision to make but I am glad I did.”
Speaking on his journey from Warri to Lagos in search of greener pasture, Chief Allen said it was a tough journey that he had to squat with his in-law to have shelter over his head.
He said, “In Lagos, I squatted with one of my younger sisters in Oshodi, Lagos while I searched for a law firm to hire me. With all my efforts, I could only get a referral that translated into no job opportunities. I cried.
Later I met a Chief who allowed me to freelance in his chamber. This made me happy. My in-law made complimentary cards for me and the journey began.
I was handed down a case file which had been even before I graduated from the university. At the court, when my case was called upon, I could not stand up because I was jittery. But to cut the story short, I won my first case and I was employed on N500 monthly salary.”
Narrating how he started his journey into business, he said, “My journey into business began with selling of lands. I had a friend called Dele in Oshodi. He was one of the people that made me. He took me to a family in Alagbado in Lagos state who had large expanse of land to sell. I was given 6 plots out of it to sell for them at the rate of N5000.
I sold a plot for N10, 000 and gained N30, 000 on the 6 plots of land I sold.
A month later, the family called me that they wanted to sell more lands because I was honest in my dealings with them.
They gave me 300 plots of land to sell for them. I was very young. I was barely 24 years old. I asked the family how much commission they would pay me. They told me to sell a plot of land for N5000 and put whatever amount I wanted.
I sold a plot for N10, 000. I made N5000 on each plot of land. I advertised in National Concord newspaper and buyers started coming. At the end, I bought 67 plots of land for myself with which I started my property company, Allen Onyema and Co.
As at 1996, I was one of the owners of land along Lekki axis. I met Yomi Phillips in Ayobo who introduced me to over 700 plots of land which I bought. I was making money. Later, I went into importation of electronics and aviation.”
Speaking on his philanthropic gesture to Nigerians in South Africa, Chief Allen said that his decision to evacuate Nigerians following the brutal attacks on Nigerians and their businesses by South Africans was motivated by his love for Nigeria and Nigerians.
He said with the gory pictures of the xenophobic attack, he saw nothing but hopelessness and dehumanisation.
He said, “I saw on television gory pictures of how South Africans attacked Nigerians. I felt if something is not urgently done; it might lead to more death. Official statistic shows that about 118 Nigerians have lost their lives. I was saddened with the number of death and property destroyed and I decided to evacuate them back to Nigeria.”
Commenting further on his motivation, he said, “I did what I did not for any publicity. I did it for the love of my country. And I also want to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing me to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa.
While assessing the impact of the evacuation on the South African economy, Chief Allen said, “The South African authority tried to frustrate our efforts. They didn’t want Nigerians to leave their enclave.
But I am happy that our efforts hit the South Africans below the belt. South Africa is now begging Nigerians not to leave their country because they never expected that such evacuation could happen.
Evacuation is not a good thing for the image of a country. It sends signal to the world that your country is not safe and secure for foreigners.
South Africa’s image has been battered. Tourists are cancelling their flights to the country and prices of stocks too have dropped. Nigerians retaliated in a non-violent way and now they are battling with the effects.”