Thursday, September 5, 2019 7:46 am
Obi Ezekwesili, Jim Ovia, Chief Executive Office of Zentih Bank have become targets of verbal bullets for attending the World Economic Forum holding in South Africa. In recent days, many foreigners, especially Nigerian immigrants, were mobbed and their businesses destroyed by citizens of that country, a development that gave rise to protests across the globe. Nigeria boycotted the forum. So also were Rwanda, Malawi and DR Congo. Tiwa Savage, a Nigerian musician also stated she would not be attending the DSTV concert in South Africa. She tweeted, “I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK. For this reason, I will NOT be performing at the upcoming DSTV delicious Festival in Johannesburg on the 21st of September. My prayers are with all the victims and families affected by this.”
However, Ezekwesili and Ovia swam against the tide. Ezekwesili defended herself on her Twitter page thus: “Those who have genuine concerns about my being at the World Economic Forumin South Africa, should please know that my decision to be here was thoroughly considered. I am in South Africa leveraging my ensure that South Africa never again looks away while our citizens are attacked, maimed and killed.
“My Life Vision is to always stand for the weaker. This is a role I play within & without Nigeria. For me, the next three days in South Africa are programmed to achieve a set of specific action by the South Africa. Our Citizens’ preservation is what matters to me not the noise.
“Those of you who take delight in making ‘Politics’ of our Citizens’ Lives can carry on with your usual trade. I stand strong on doing the things one can do to safeguard lives. Citizens’ Lives are too sacred & important for me to be drawn into your latest ‘playground’. Never.”
However, Nigerians attacked her ceaselessly. First, Richard Akinnola, a journalist and human rights campaigner, argued:
“I’m not bothered if El Rufai and Kayode Fayemi attended the WEF in South Africa. Same reason l never criticized Jim Ovia. My criticism of Oby is that she called out the president for not doing enough over the attacks. I would have thought that as a supposed public conscience who felt riled over the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, she could have made a louder statement by boycotting the event. Environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey was equally billed to speak at an even in South Africa, where probably, he would have been paid for his presentation but he canceled his trip to SA as a protest. He is also a private citizen like Oby. The boycott of the WEF by three African countries and Zambia’s cancelation of a friendly match with South Africa over same issue, sent more message than any appearance by Oby.
So, if we now say that she is a private citizen and free to go to South Africa, why then was Margaret Thatcher of UK and the New Zealand government pilloried for dealing with the apartheid regime when the whole world boycotted the Boers during the apartheid regime? Why did many Nigerians single out Dr Olu Onagoruwa for criticism for serving in Abacha government, when others like Jakande and Ebino Topsy similarly served in the same government? It’s just that following Onagoruwa’s pedigree of fighting the military, he was judged with higher standards. Same standard l’m judging Oby, considering her public profile as a major critic of this government. If for example, l was caught for taking “one way” traffic, people would judge me more harshly than any other regular guy. And by the way, assuming she contested last presidential election and won, would she have gone to attend the WEF in spite of what happened?”
Moji Danisa, another journalist, went to town thus: “This person wanted to be president. It took one courageous lone woman with a placard at ShopRite to propel a richocchet of events which finally got the federal Govt to do the right thing. Tiwa Savage who never served in government, a musician doing legitimate business cancelled a mega – buck concert. Those are the real citizens of Nigeria, not these moonshiners called politicians. Greedy bozos!”
Samuel Ukpi also wrote: “So you really think what you would say at the WEF will carry more weight than the message sent by President of Malawi, Congo, Zimbabwe, Nigeria etc?”
A Michael also submitted: “Let’s face the truth mama, you did what you had to do for you and not for the many Africans, especially Nigerians suffering in the #XenophobiaAttack. Once again you have proven to Nigerians that you come first just like you disappointed us during the elections.” D. Adetola also added his jibe: “There are hypocrisy and irony in this. If you stand for the value of life and an actionable government, what then are you doing with a government which hasn’t displayed any conscious regard in this light? Do the right thing Ma and cut short your visit.”
To Prince Adetokunbo Olaoye, this is pure betrayal and double standard on your part. “Why are you guys selling us so cheap to these people, why?”