Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, have drawn the anger of some Nigerians over their attendance of the World Economic Forum on Africa holding in South Africa amid protests by Nigerian and other countries against xenophobic attacks by South Africans.
Ezekwesili, who is the former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in the 2019 general elections, and Ovia were panellists at the ongoing international economic summit, despite the Federal Government shunning the forum to protest the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians residing in South Africa.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, had tweeted that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was to represent Nigeria at the WEF, but “he had called it off in reaction to these gruesome attacks on Nigerians.”
Nigerians expressed outrage on social media over Ezekwesili attendance at the forum with “Madam Oby” trending on Twitter by Wednesday evening.
Kate Nnaji said, “So if we had elected Madam Oby as our 1st female president, this is how she would have gone to South Africa & attended the World Economic Summit despite the #XenophobicAttacks on Nigerians. @obyezeks please remain in South Africa; don’t come back. Thanks.”
Olufunke Lawson also stated, “Very interesting! Madam Oby at the WEF to go and earn forex, then fight back for humiliated Nigerians or what? Who can try and defend this? Where are her patients?”
Favour Onyeoziri also stated, “Madam Oby chose to attend WEF in South Africa, so she can sneak in a few tips about how to stop xenophobia to the South African Government. A Government that already has a library full of such information, but refuses to act. Her absence would have spoken louder than words.”
Some others also criticised Ovia for attending the forum.
@PhiicCoco stated, “Nigerians (are) trying to understand if Madam Oby and Jim Ovia are actually Nigerians or South Africans or Nigerian-South Africans or South African-Nigerians.”
Olaide S Akanni also said, “In solidarity, a football match was cancelled. Governments withdrew from an important event. Celebrities cancelled their gigs (they have to make refunds). Yet, @obyezeks and @jimovia_zennith do not see reasons why South Africa should be boycotted.”
However, some defended the prominent Nigerians, saying they confront the South African Government on its failings.
Chidi Okereke noted, “Madam Oby would have made a statement by pulling out of the conference, yes. But she will also make a statement by staying and telling the SA Government to fix up, to their faces. All methods of activism and advocacy are valid. The end game is peace. Let’s all focus.”
@Daveranking1 also said, “People should stop dragging Madam Oby Ezekwesili and Jim Ovia. Those individuals may use that medium to spread the word of peace to the whole of Africa. Nigerians you’re your brain.”