SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 6 – Spurred by a series of tweets by presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad, Nigerians continue to slam former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili over her recent attendance at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa. It turns out that prominent members of the ruling All Progressives Party(APC) were also in South Africa but the government did not criticize them.
The Nigerian government had joined the bandwagon of countries cancelling engagements with South Africa as anger rose across Africa over Xenophobic attacks against black foreigners in the country. Madagascar and Zambia cancelled scheduled football matches with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
Nigerian celebrities joined the fray with Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage declaring boycotts. Tiwa Savage cancelled her appearance at an upcoming show in South Africa.
The tension between Nigeria and South Africa rose to a feverish pitch as South African gangs attacked Nigerians and other black immigrants while Nigerians retaliated at home by looting South-Africa owned businesses, including PEP and Shoprite outlets.
Nigeria had officially pulled out of the World Economic Forum at Cape Town. However, that did not stop some individual Nigerians, including Oby Ezekwesili and Jim Ovia from attending.
On September 4, Bashir Ahmad Tweeted:
“Nigerian government has boycotted the World Economic Forum holding in Cape Town, South Africa, but some individuals from Nigeria including a former Minister are attending on their own.”
Ahmad later revealed that he was referring to Oby Ezekwesili. In response to Ezekwesili’s argument that a private citizen like her does not need the Nigerian government to participate in the WEF, Ahmad again tweeted:
“Aunty @obyezeks you’re properly very educated but unfortunately you failed to understand that those who are being attacked in SA, where you’re at the moment, are also private citizens, we all thought you’d sympathize with them and boycott the @wef to properly protest the attacks.”
While the presidential aide was fixated on the former Minister, pictures of Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai and Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido in South Africa were circulating on social media. Two of these men are prominent chieftains in the APC and close to president Muhammadu Buhari.
Many Nigerians have taken to Twitter to criticize what they term as the hypocrisy of the APC-led government. According to them, the fact that Ahmad ignored the presence of these men in South Africa and instead singled out Ezekwesili, reflects double standard. It is curious that they were in South Africa at this time and they are longer attending an event they usually flaunt with pomp.
A Twitter user, Ayo Bankole wrote:
“Two APC Governors & Buhari’s close allies, Fayemi & El Rufai, along with Lamido Sanusi, Amina Mohammed, Jim Ovia, and many others also attended WEF. But Bashir fraudulently tossed Madam Oby to you because she speaks against this govt’s failure, and you fell for it. Very pathetic.”
Another, Young Otutu wrote:
“Nasir Elrufai is in S Africa.
Kayode Fayemi, is in S Africa.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is in S Africa.
Amina Jane Mohammed, is in S Africa.
But Bashir Ahmad, Ayourb & their bunch of APC crackheads only saw Madam Oby at the WEF.
So pained Buhari didn’t go.
Both Fayemi and El-Rufai have denied attending the World Economic Forum. A statement by Fayemi’s Senior Special Assistant (Electronic Media), Kanmi Olatoye, declared, “Contrary to some misleading online reports, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was not at the World Economic Forum in South Africa.
“Rather, the governor is in South Africa to honour an invitation by a long-time friend and one of Nigeria’s most celebrated journalists, Mr. Dele Olojode, at the Africa in the World Festival of Ideas, which held in Stellenbosch, a university town in South Africa’s Western Cape province.”
Continuing, the statement asserted that, “More importantly, the event already held before the decision of the Federal Government to boycott the WEF programme.”