Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, may have caved in to pressure from some Nigerians who opposed his being listed as a speaker at the 2021 edition of The Platform, an annual conference organised by the Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos, Poju Oyemade.
The programme was themed, ‘Is Devolution of Powers The Solution To Nigeria’s Problems’.
The programme featured speakers including Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah; former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka; ex-President of Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba, amongst others.
However, El-Rufai, who was announced as one of the speakers at the event, was conspicuously absent from the programme on Saturday.
Efforts to get the comments of the Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the governor, Muyiwa Adekeye, proved abortive as calls to his line were unanswered and he was yet to respond to a text message sent to his line by our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.
Also, the organisers of the programme did not give any reason why El-Rufai was not present at the event.
Some Twitter users had kicked against the choice of El-Rufai as a speaker on The Platform when the flyer inviting people to the event went viral with the governor as one of the speakers.
@sojjyrem100 tweeted, “El-Rufai should never be allowed to share #ThePlatform with other leaders of thoughts.”
@firstladyship had tweeted, “El-Rufai is well known to all. There is nothing he needs to say at The Platform, he hasn’t said already. Nigeria Churches must be very careful of whom they give their platforms to.”
@ronaldnzimora also wrote, “Anyone and I mean anyone, putting El-Rufai on their platform is someone you should not trust and stay far away from.”
@Favbreed1 also stated, “Dear @pastorpoju, NBA withdrew the invitation for @elrufai the governor of Kaduna State. Please recall that Southern Kaduna Christians were slaughtered under his watch with little or no help for them. The Church of Christ should not have him on their stage #BoycottThePlatform
Last August, the Nigerian Bar Association withdrew its invitation to El-Rufai, following protests from some lawyers. The lawyers had faulted the NBA for inviting el-Rufai, citing his alleged poor human rights record and his inability to stop the killings, particularly in southern Kaduna.