The Chairman of Air Peace, Dr Allen Onyema, has pledged to establish Nigeria’s first Centre for Non-Violence and Peace Studies at the Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Awka in Anambra.
Onyema made the pledge on Saturday after he was conferred with an Honourary Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) by the university during its 9th convocation ceremony.
Onyema, who also donated N70 million to upgrade infrastructure in the institution, noted that ethno-religious violence has become endemic in Nigeria.
He said :”I want to help education. I want to fight the incidence of violence and ethnicity in this country. The greatest bane to our development is ethnicity.
“That is why I want to set up the first centre for non-violence and peace studies for them by collaborating with the university and making it an elective course for students, so that people will start learning how to manage conflict.
“Conflict is a catalyst for change but it depends on how you manage it. The institute I want to set up here will help Nigerians with the ways and means of managing conflicts to achieve better results.”
Onyema said he had contributed his quota to bringing relative peace to the Niger-Delta region and other parts of the country through his organisation, Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN).
According to him, the challenges of etho-religious violence can be tackled through education and provision of employment opportunities for Nigerians.
He said Air Peace, which started four years ago, had employed some 4,000 Nigerians across the various ethnic groups as part of the airline’s contribution to national development.
Onyema said the airline currently had 27 aircraft in its fleet and also recently signed an agreement with Boeing for the supply of 10 brand new B737 Max 8 aircraft to boost its international operations.
“Today, we operate into 14 domestic and five regional destinations, with plans for the inauguration of our long-haul flights to Dubai, Sharjah, London, Houston, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai and Johannesburg nearing completion,” he said.
The Air Peace boss called on the Federal Government to continue to provide the needed support for Nigerian businesses, stressing that this would help fast track socio-economic development in the country.
While thanking the authorities of the university for the recognition given to him and other awardees, he said such gesture encourages people to do more for the society.