Jim Ovia Withdraws From WEF In South Africa Following Backlash

Jim Ovia

SAN FRANCISCO, September 05, (THEWILL) – The Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia, has announced his withdrawal from the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) holding in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ovia and Oby Ezekwesili, a 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 signed by Ayoola Kusimo of Zenith Bank’s Corporate Communications, 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.

In a statement Ovia said his decision to withdraw from activities at the WEF was hinged on xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country.

The statement read, “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 Jim Ovia has withdrawn from further activities at the World Economic Forum Africa 2019, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.

“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.”

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