STILL ON ALLEN ONYEAMA… By Joseph Chukwuma Ikunna

I get really worried when I read on social media that the Air Peace MD, Allen Onyeama is being indicted because he is Igbo, and Nigeria, and perhaps now the whole world want to destroy Igbo businesses and potentionally prominent Igbo businessmen. Why have my people fallen so deeply and flatly for such cheap blackmail?

Please note that the Nigerian Government has nothing to do with Allen Onyeama’s US indictment, and cannot do anything, except call for a fair hearing, to ease the situation. The Nigerian Government has not indicted him, and has nothing to do with his business dealings. If anything, the FG has in the past supported Air Peace by awarding it licenses to fly out of Nigeria to five international destinations. I was with Allen in Enugu in 2016, when we discussed his business model, where he had nothing but thanks and praise for the Federal Government for the assistance they had offered in approving these licenses for him with ease.

I had a discussion with a close buddy of mine this morning, and we both concluded that the problem with most Nigerian businesses, and especially businesses owned by we Igbo men, including my own little business, is that we do not like to spend real and proper monies on world class structures that recruit world class experienced, knowledgeable and influential staff, that will ensure that our businesses make the right growth decisions, and protect us from the mistakes people like Allen Onyeama is currently going through.

A world class human resource professional, a world class financial controller, a world class legal adviser, a world class chief operating officer, and a world class public relations officer and media head are all what are needed for progressive businesses that want and need to grow and survive in the international arena, where influence and politics plays out on a daily basis, especially where business decisions affect jobs, stock prices, reputations, country economic indices and the GDP of a country. Such decisions cannot be made or scenarios analyzed by some of those we employ in Nigeria to run our businesses today.

This is where Dangote is different from almost all the rest and has grown in leaps and bounds ahead of all of them, in recent times, not necessarily because of Federal Government patronage or waivers, but by making sure he has employed quality thinkers and real quality staff with international connections and experience, into his companies, unlike the mediocre and cheap staff that some of the other companies have employed. In fact it takes well connected, clever and highly experienced staff to get any government to give patronage and waivers to a company of Dangote’s size; after all Obasanjo and Jonathan are no Fulanis, but Dangote will admit that those were some of his best growth years, where his companies became quoted, and monies from investors flew in.

Some of us are simply not ready to compete, and many still have the trader mentality where we prefer to recruit apprentices into our businesses, where we are proud to live as monster fish in a stream, rather than a Sperm or Blue Whale in an ocean. Another example of mediocre payback is Diamond Bank, once run by father and son. We all know what happened to that bank a few years back, something that would never happen to GT Bank or Zenith Bank, because they have both learned and understood the importance of employing the best there is out there.

Allen Onyeama’s current problems are purely and solely as a result of his American business dealings, and nothing to do with his ethnicity, the Nigerian Government or anyone targeting him for political reasons or anything to do with the competition by other airlines. Remember it is Allen Onyeama that is being indicted, and not Air Peace. Air Peace is still intact, and will not be affected by any of this if Allen makes some of the right decisions right now.


So in all honesty folks, this inditement is all about making Allen Oyeama have a rethink, so that the US courts can give him a slap on the wrist and a small or maybe big fine, and hope that he has learnt an important lesson, if indeed he handles things professionally henceforth and protects the US’s interest.


No thanks to Allen’s mediocre structure and lack of good business advice, Financial and Legal advisers, Allen did the unthinkable thing and stepped on Boeing’s toes by canceling an almost two billion dollar order, and moving to Bombardier, a Canadian company to make the anticipated purchases. Can we all imagine the effect this had on Boeing, their shares, and the possibility of other companies following suit, at a period where Boeing has been facing a serious crisis with the Boeing 737 max aeroplane crisis, following two major crashes. Why would Springfield have been the first company to cancel orders when other companies were patiently waiting to see the outcome of the software upgrades? Who in Allen’s company had the ability to advise him to hold on and wait and see the outcome of the upgrades, or what decisions the other airlines and country carriers would reach?

Of course the US Government would be interested in any 2 billion dollar deal which will generate and protect at least 40,000 US jobs, and might have already been recorded as a sale in its trade books for the period; and of course Donald Trump and his America First policy would do all to make a scape goat of anyone who is responsible for any such action which would give a Canadian product preference to an American product. America has made enough examples of major countries, and regions such as China, Canada, Mexico, Europe, etc…… how much more our poor unprotected Allen Onyeama, the MD of Air Peace. What was our brother thinking. The customer is always right, just as all animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others.

So in all honesty folks, this inditement is all about making Allen Oyeama have a rethink, so that the US courts can give him a slap on the wrist and a small or maybe big fine, and hope that he has learnt an important lesson, if indeed he handles things professionally henceforth and protects the US’s interest.

He needs to employ the best lawyers, and not some mediocre group of Nigerians who call themselves lawyers in the US, good lobbyists in Washington and professional PR personnel out there and do all he can to make sure the Boeing deal is re-enacted. It must be re-enacted if he is to get out of this mess a free man, or otherwise, he will end up being a case study in the business schools on how not to do business with the multinational companies in the US. Especially when they know exactly where to catch you out. Of course Boeing knew that the payments were coming from Springfield. It was not an offence when the going was good, was it?

In the meantime my advise would be for Allen Onyeama to resign as MD of Air Peace to avoid roping the company in, so that he can spend all his time and energy in clearing up this mess. There is no need for him to make any statements or try to clear himself in the eyes of the media. By doing that he just digs a deeper hole. The case is now in the hands of the US attorney and not social media sympathizers.

It’s important to note that all global companies need to use transfer pricing models in order to advance their businesses. All companies do it. Allen’s only problem was that he set his deals up in the US, instead of an offshore company. I must say that there is nothing abnormal about what Allen has done, and many of us do same to keep our business afloat, but in this case, the US simply want to use their legal loopholes to blackmail him into going back to Boeing, and that’s what I suspect his very good US lawyers will advise him to do.

That’s also my two pence of advise to this vibrant and courageous brother of ours.

Chief Joseph Chukwuma Ikunna, is the CEO Bulldog Nigeria Limited and Founder JCI Foundation
25/11/2019