The Platform Nigeria, an event organised by the Senior Pastor of The Covenant Nation, Poju Oyemade, has come under criticism for having Kaduna’s Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai as one of its panelists.
The Platform, which has gained popularity for the conversations hosted around governance in Nigeria, has the theme “Is devolution of powers the solution to Nigeria’s problems?” for this year’s edition.
The inclusion of el-Rufai among the panelists has led to protests online, with the hashtag #BoycottThePlatform trending. Christians and human rights activists made reference to el-Rufai’s tweet of September 8, 2014 in which he accused Christians of sponsoring Boko Haram with the aim of tarnishing the name of Islam.
In a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, however, Pastor Oyemade said Christians had to stop shying away from politics. He wrote: “I don’t mean to run roughshod on people’s convictions but to change things you must be an ‘insider’ of some sort. We approach matters of politics and governance with a ‘Church mind’ as we say. The rules of engagement on matters within the Body of Christ are different from the rules when engaging with the world. You are allowed greater latitude.”
The protests were not directed to other politicians, such as Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; and the former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, who are panelists on the event.
This is not the first time Nigerians would kick against organizations giving el-Rufai a platform to talk. In August 2020, the Nigerian Bar Association withdrew their invitation to him as a guest speaker at their 60th Annual General Meeting following criticisms from human rights activists and lawyers who trended #CancelElRufai on Twitter.
Other panelists on The Platform are the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto Bishop, Matthew Hassan Kukah; Chair of The Editorial Board of Thisday Newspaper, Segun Adeniyi; former President of the Nigerian Bar Association Olisa Agbakoba; and Dr. Charles Omole.
Pastor Oyemade further said, “Sitting on the outside allowing yourself to be intimidated by stone throwers who will never lift the load of governance but sit and complain will get us nowhere.
“Even Jesus was accused of being a friend of winebibbers and gluttons. Until we learn that salt has to penetrate the subject it is to influence, disappearing within it we cannot function as the salt of the earth.”
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.