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Xenophobia: Ezekwesili adamant, hits South Africa over attacks at WEF



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Activist and former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has shunned critics who have continued to attack her for participating in the ongoing World Economic Forum for Africa holding in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ezekwesili and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc., Mr. Jim Ovia, who was named Co-Chair of the Forum, had come under intense criticism on social media for not pulling out on account of the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa.

Mr. Ovia had in the early hours of Thursday, announced that he was pulling out from the Forum, but Mrs Ezekwesili has not.

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Nigeria’s Federal Government, which was to be represented at the Forum by the country’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had formally announced its decision to pull out, following the steps of Rwanda and other African countries.

However, there have been reports and pictures suggesting that Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi are attending the event despite the announcement of a pull out by the President Muhammadu Buhari government. Business Hallmark cannot yet confirm the authenticity of the pictures.

Meanwhile, Ezekwesili who spoke at the Forum yesterday, used the opportunity to demand serious conversations around the continuing attacks in South Africa, pointing out that such cannot be allowed when the continent is talking about free trade.

“I think that there has to be a very distinct session for us to discuss the issues of our collaboration as Africans. The reality of what we saw in South Africa is too sordid for it to be a conversation by the way,” she said.

“This is the issue, we cannot have Africa continental free trade agreement and yet, we have a situation where there is black on black violence in this country. So I do hope we go beyond the marginal conversation and get to the heart of the matter of what kind of integrated Africa we want to drive forward, that’s number one.”

Earlier, the former minister took to her twitter handle @obyezeks hit back at her critics, noting that his decision to appear at the Forum was thoroughly considered.

“A fiercely passionate believer in the public good of nations, serving before leading. Validated by God and my Dad who taught me to never dignify nonsense,” she twitted.

“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 government of 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.

“Those who have genuine concerns about my being at World Economic Forum in South Africa, should please know that my decision to be here was thoroughly considered. I am in South Africa leveraging my ensure that the government of South Africa never again looks away while our citizens are attacked, maimed & killed.”

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