The Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has denied that he was in South Africa to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF), holding in Cape Town, South Africa.
Mr Fayemi confirmed that he visited South Africa, but went to Stellensbosch at the invitation of Nigerian journalist, Dele Olojede.
PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that Mr Fayemi alongside Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano were at the Stellensbosch event and not at the WEF.
Many Nigerians on social media had criticised the three men after their pictures in South Africa were posted online. The Nigerian government had earlier withdrawn its participation from WEF following xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa.
The withdrawal is one of the steps taken by the Nigerian government to protest the xenophobic attacks.
A former Nigerian minister, Oby Ezekwesili, had been criticised for attending the WEF while Nigerian banker Jim Ovia, who also attended, announced that he was withdrawing from the event.
Mr Fayemi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, said he was not at the World Economic Forum.
He said he was rather in South Africa to honour an invitation “by a long-time friend and one of Nigeria’s most celebrated journalists, Mr Dele Oolojode at the Africa in the World Festival of Ideas.”
Mr Fayemi argued that the festival took place in Stellensbosch, a city far away from Cape Town, where the WEF was holding.
“More importantly, the event already held before the decision of the Federal Government to boycott the WEF programme,” he said.
Like Mr Fayemi, Mr Sanusi and Mr El-Rufai either delivered papers or sat on panels at the Stellensbosch event.
Mr Olojede, the organiser, is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and the publisher of the now rested NEXT Newspapers in Nigeria.
The journalist confirmed he organised the event in a Tweet on Thursday.
“Absolutely delighted to be hosting so many thinkers and doers from around the world at the inaugural @africainworld festival of ideas at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa. On the festival stage have been @elrufai @Laurie_Garrett @amidror @arturocondo @neomuyanga …”