Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, has pulled out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, over the poor state of security of foreign nationals in the country.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced its decision to pull out of the forum and to recall Nigeria’s high commissioner to South Africa over attacks on citizens and their businesses in that country.
Ovia and Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of education, had come under criticism on social media for their participation in the meeting, with some Nigerians describing their action as insensitive.
In a statement on Thursday, Ovia said he was withdrawing from further participation in the forum to add his voice against the poor state of security of foreign nationals in South Africa.
Before exiting the forum, the entrepreneur asked the South African government to focus on youth empowerment to curb continual attacks on foreign nationals.
‘’Following the hypersensitivity of the issues surrounding the lives and well-being of Nigerian citizens living in South Africa and to contribute his voice against the poor state of security regarding foreign nationals living in Africa, the Founder/Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia has withdrawn from further activities at the World Economic Forum Africa 2019, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa,’’ the statement read.
‘’Before taking his exit, Mr. Ovia stressed the need for youth empowerment and better government policies to curb continual attacks on persons living within and outside Africa. He belaboured that until positive change towards collective growth happens on this front, the continent would not reach its potential.
‘’Mr. Ovia added that full support should be rendered in vocational education of the young persons living in not just Nigeria but Africa. According to him, the Jim Ovia Foundation has taken up a stance on this issue, having empowered over 3,500 students and entrepreneurs since its inception. He called on other members of the private sector to join hands and solve this menace plaguing the African continent.’’
Some Nigerians have asked the government to apply drastic measures in responding to the attacks in South Africa. Orji Kalu, senate chief whip, asked that South African-owned businesses in the country be shut down if the attacks continue.