ASAP West Africa held its first public event on January 27th at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. About 800-1000 people attended the symposium, titled “Political Campaigns Funding and the Looming Tsunami of Poverty.”
Dr. Akin Oyebode, Professor of Law at University of Lagos, delivered the keynote address in which he spoke about politics, corruption and poverty to an engaged audience. In his speech, the professor criticized the ruling People’s Democratic Party for its corruption and stressed the need for leaders to start serving the collective interests of Nigeria’s citizens. He referred to the country as “a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy,” and stated, “public service… should be open to all men and women of noble intention, commitment to the people’s cause, and requisite goodwill.”
Other speakers at the symposium included the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Rahaman Ade Bello, Professor Adebayo Ninalowo, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi of Premium Times, Mr. Sam Omatseye of The Nation, and Dr. Femi Aribisala. ASAP President Thomas Pogge delivered a video address, in which he explained ASAP’s global mission and vision.
All but one of these speakers echoed the sentiments of Dr. Oyebode. Contrary to the keynote speaker, Dr. Femi Aribisala defended the ruling class. According to him, the nation’s leaders have leveraged their political power to alleviate the suffering of Nigeria’s citizens. The audience expressed its disagreement with this assessment, adding energy to the debate.
The media was well represented, with several outlets in attendance, including: The Guardian, Punch Newspaper, The Nation, Daily Times, New Telegraph, Tell Magazine, Unilag Television, and Premium Times.
Following the success of its inaugural symposium, ASAP West Africa plans to launch the organization in Lagos with a 3-day conference. The chapter may also organize workshops or seminars before the launch.