President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmed, and Alder Consulting, a Nigerian business and marketing consulting firm, came under fire on Wednesday after both announced their withdrawal from a social media conference due to its inclusion of Idris Okuneye, more popularly known as Bobrisky.
The New Media Citizens and Governance Conference, organized by Enough is Enough Nigeria, began on Wednesday in Abuja. According to the conference website, Bobrisky, who rose to fame in Nigeria from his viral and unusual use of Snapchat, is slated to speak on a Thursday session titled Engagement Unusual: Unconventional Uses of New Media.
Upon learning that Bobrisky, a flamboyant social media personality popularly known as “Africa’s First Male Barbie” , was invited to speak at the conference, a Twitter user implored the president’s aide to withdraw from the conference.
“I couldn’t picture you on the same panel with that idiot Bobrisky. Please don’t attend this conference,” he tweeted to Mr. Ahmad, to which he replied, “Okay, I will do that for you, NVM [never mind].” Ahmed shortly thereafter released a statement on his Twitter page formally announcing his withdrawal from the conference without giving reason for doing so.
Subomi Plumptre, a member of Alder Consulting’s Executive Committee, and social media influencer soon followed suit and refused to attend the conference. The consulting group released a statement explaining that the company had not been informed that Bobrisky would be included on the panel and formally withdrew from the conference.
According to a statement from Alder Consulting, Bobrisky’s presence would “sensationalize” and “radicalize” the event, which should “otherwise be a serious discourse on new approaches to media engagement.”
Why is Bobrisky Causing Such Uproar?
The sudden withdrawal of prominent panelists and the outrage expressed by many people on Twitter at Bobrisky’s presence at the conference is indicative of Nigeria’s sentiment towards homosexuality.
In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill into law that prohibits same-sex marriage, civil unions and imposes prison sentences of up to 10 years for anyone who makes homosexuality public. This controversial law has been under scrutiny by Amnesty International, the United States Government and many other human rights organizations
In interviews, Bobrisky has neither identified as gay or straight and fans continue to speculate at his sexual orientation. The fact that he is called “Africa’s Male Barbie,” wears makeup, dresses in women’s clothes and has a ‘bae’ has caused a social uproar and viral success on Snapchat. Regardless of his sexual orientation, Bobrinsky certainly lives up to the title of his conference session and has something to say about using unusual ways to engage fans on social media. Once again, Nigeria further demonstrates its intolerance towards homosexual behavior of any kind.