Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has said the Nigerian government did not go after him just because he attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in South Africa which it boycotted, but a part of a cheap and frustrating strategy designed to bully, slander, denigrate him at every opportunity.
Concise News gathered that the former presidential candidate in the 2019 election made this known in a series of tweets on her Twitter page on Saturday morning.
Ezekwesili wrote “You’d be naive to think that the mob action the @NigeriaGov planned, incited and orchestrated against me was “because she went to @wef when the country boycotted it”. No. Just part of a cheap & frustrated strategy designed to bully, slander, denigrate me at every opportunity.”
Concise News had on Thursday reported that some Nigerians took to their Twitter handles to criticize Ezekwesili for attending WEF meeting in South Africa amidst diplomatic rows between Nigeria and South Africa.
It was reported that the former presidential candidate attended the forum on Wednesday.
There has been a flurry of diplomatic activities between the two countries over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
On Tuesday, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, over the attacks.
The presidency also announced on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari would be sending an envoy to South Africa over the issue.
And on Wednesday evening, pictures surfaced across social media showing Ezekwesili and Zenith Bank Chief, Jim Ovia, at the WEF event in South Africa. Many Nigerians across social media platforms, especially Twitter, however, condemned the decision.
See reactions on Twitter
“Madam Oby is the last person I expect would go to a WEF in South Africa that everybody has concluded Nigeria should stay away from,” wrote a Twitter user, Henry Okelue. “I am really surprised that she of all people would do something she would have spoken very strongly against if somebody else did it.”
Another handle tagged PDP Vanguard tweeted: “Obviously, Madam Oby can sell her destiny for Cameras and dollar! There’s no justification whatsoever for her to accept the invitation if as clueless as @MBuhari can do the needful by boycotting the kangaroo WEF. Shame!!!”
Wale Adetona, tweeting via the handle @islimfit, described the former presidential candidate’s conduct as ‘hypocrisy’. He wrote: “This is hypocrisy of the highest order. Imagine if the government had not taken the decision to boycott WEF, the likes of Madam Oby and co would have done thread enough to sew agbada.”
Another user tweeting via the handle @7even10en said Mrs Ezekwesili does not represent Nigeria at the forum. “Madam oby, you’re there on your own and not as a Nigerian. #WEF #StopXenophobicAttacks #Xenophobia,” the user tweeted.
In a slew of reactions, Ezekwesili argued that she was at the forum to ensure that the South African government takes decisive steps in putting an end to the attacks against Nigerians and other Africans in the country.
She tweeted: “Those who have genuine concerns about my being at
@wef in South Africa, should please know that my decision to be here was thoroughly considered. I am in South Africa leveraging my (sic) to ensure that @GovernmentZA never again looks away while our citizens are attacked, maimed & 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 actions by the @GovernmentZA. 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 in 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.”
The World Economic Forum is the International Organisation for Public-Private Cooperation. The forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
The theme of this year’s meeting, holding between September 4th and 6th, is ‘Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ holding in Cape Town, South Africa.