Reuben Abati, TIERs and the Nigerian LGBT

Reuben Abati, TIERs and the Nigerian LGBT

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) in partnership with YNaija.com has announced the speakers at the 2016 Human Rights discussion conference themed: Human Rights, Sexuality and the Law.

The conference, which will take place on December 14, 2016 at Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island, Lagos, will be an earnest inquiry into the issues of human right violations in Nigeria and it is organized to mark the 2016 International Human Rights Week.

Speaking on the selected speakers for the event, Olumide Makanjuola, Executive Director of TIERS, said, “Human Rights in Nigeria is an issue that requires a serious examination. It is an important discussion that we need to have as a society and as a country. Speakers at this year’s event were selected based on their long standing on the issues of human right violation, law and protection in Nigeria.” (To confirm your attendance for this event, click HERE)

The panel – which includes Abayomi Shogunle, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) at Nigeria Police Force; Cheta Nwanze, Chief Executive Officer, SBM Intelligence; Latasha Ngwube, Founder, About That Curvy Life/Content Writer at Vanguard Allure Magazine; Joy Isi Bewaji, Writer, Lifestyle Editor, Presenter, Publicist, Scriptwriter, Author at Happening Magazine; and Ayokunle Odekunle, Associate, Kenna Partners (Barristers and Solicitors) & Director, Corporate and Legal at BBG Media Group; Osikhena Dirisu (Osi Suave), On Air Personality and TV host – will be moderated by Chioma Agwuegbo, Founder at TechHer. And the keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Reuben Abati, the former Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Following the announcement of the distinguished guests expected to address the attendees of the conference, notable among them Dr. Abati, who served as the mouthpiece of President Jonathan and hailed the antigay law he signed into existence, there was an uproar on the social media over the choice of the keynote speaker.

Among the voices of dissent was that of gay rights activist, Bisi Alimi, who took to his Facebook page to denounce what some others believed to be an unsuitable fit for an LGBT event.tier1tier3tier4tier5

There have also being other voices weighing in on the contention, both arguing in favour of and against the association Reuben Abati has with such a prestigious LGBT event, considering his past disdain for the Nigerian LGBT community.tiers1tiers2tiers3tiers4

What are your thoughts?

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30 Comments

  1. pete
    December 04, 06:30 Reply

    What’s Abati coming to say? His public utterances regarding sexuality is known and is not in alignment with what TIERS stand for. For those saying, it’s time we engage with the opposing side, I leave you with this anonymous quote, “Homosexuality is not obligated to be polite or nice to homophobia”.

  2. ambivalentone
    December 04, 06:49 Reply

    If he and that ASP fellow are planned as the menu item, to be cut into little bloody bits and made to pay for every hurt, I am cool with it

      • ambivalentone
        December 04, 08:40 Reply

        Me ke? What’s my own? After they’ve exhausted their all the constitution’s points backed by a spiritualist’s angle, I hope they will be disgraced when common sense questions are thrown at them. Iranu ati oshi

  3. Mandy
    December 04, 07:30 Reply

    In her recent eassay about the US election, Chimamanda said: “The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators.”
    Period!
    It is not our responsibility to engage or pander to these people who have reviled us. They owe it to us to engage us, to APOLOGIZE, to take the first step toward unity. Reuben Abati ought to have recanted every horrible thing he said about the LGBT before taking a stand to represent us in any forum, let alone a TIERs event.
    On Human Rights, no less. Imagine the irony.

    • Francis
      December 04, 08:00 Reply

      My thoughts exactly. Besides which dirty influence does Abati have sef? We already know his mouth and conscience are easily swayed by the highest bidder. Mscheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew

  4. NoDramaNeeded
    December 04, 07:45 Reply

    Bisi is being overly dramatic. I understand his revulsion at the prospect of having Reuben Abati speak at a TIERS event. I had the same reaction initially but that quickly changed when I carefully processed it. It would be a better world if opposite sides of any argument politely engaged to better understand themselves rather than spouting hatred and exclusion which further alienates the minority. Bisi should be able to see this if he would just dismount from his very high horse. It’s clear he has personal disagreements with the people at TIERS, his sense of entitlement shines through. I’m certain Bisi is doing an amazing work advocating for LGBT rights but he can do that without all the incoherent rants and frothing at the mouth.

    • Francis
      December 04, 08:04 Reply

      I don’t believe in sitting and dialoguing with peeps that clearly have a problem with how I do things by force. They should be allowed to stew in their hate and make amends when they truly feel sorry for their actions…..why should they be dragged into a panel to discuss issues affecting those they’ve oppressed and get paid while at it?

  5. Kritzmoritz
    December 04, 09:24 Reply

    TIERS does not owe it’s work to demagoguery, threats and public rants. They’re doing their best to open the public space for the greater tomorrow. They also do not have to comply to cynnical personal agenda of anyone. Those who have been so wounded and broken by public policy deserve to know why they have been so targeted. They will not get the answers by scurrying under a rock. The future of LGBT Nigerians will be obtained at a round table, negotiated and settled. It is a time tested precedent from ending slavery, the suffragette and to apartheid. The table is a big one and all inclusive. It is the reorientation of the hateful that can assure the safety of tomorrow

    • Mandy
      December 04, 09:46 Reply

      TIERS does not owe it’s work to demagoguery, threats and public rants… They also do not have to comply to cynnical personal agenda of anyone.’

      Is that a not-so subtle dig at Bisi? Because I do not believe there’s anything personal or agenda-ish about calling out the wrongful move of a Nigerian LGBT forum in getting inclusive.

  6. Dennis Macaulay
    December 04, 10:12 Reply

    I like to stay on the issues. Whatever differences that exist between Bisi and the people at TIERs is not my concern but I believe that making Reuben Abati keynote speaker (not a panelist or anything but a Keynote speaker) is a wrong call and quite frankly an insult to all of us.

  7. DarkSide
    December 04, 11:06 Reply

    I see something else happening here. This is forcing yet another lgbt-centred discussed on social media. This may just be what is needed to make some people aware of LGBT issues?

  8. IBK
    December 04, 11:48 Reply

    I’ve said it and I will say it again.. Why don’t you just call a knownrapist to be a keynote speaker at an anti-rape convention.

    This is disrespectful to the LGBT in my own opinion calling on someone who called us pedophiles and people who want to corrupt children to be a KEYNOTE speaker. If he was just Part of the panel? No p.. But what is he coming to do? Give us half baked excuses for the law?

    We don’t need to know their reasons for hate or discrimination. Is that going to set us free? Is that what we need to hear right now? Abeg abeg abeg.

    I get trying to dialogue but couldn’t they have found someone better or at least someone who has openly admitted that they no longer feel as they did and has apologised for tge hurt they caused. Pandering to the homophobes or the other side isnt what we need. Let’s gather those who support us and fight for our freedom. Those who decide they still want to live as neanderthals will be left behind.

  9. Dennis Macaulay
    December 04, 12:06 Reply

    As for all of you talking about engagement, maybe you should look up what a keynote speech is. It does not give room for dialogue/engagement, the speaker talks and everybody listens till he/she is done. No questions are asked.

    If you want to engage Abati, then put him on a panel, I cannot believe we are even debating this. It is all shades of wrong

  10. Delle
    December 04, 12:41 Reply

    It’s all wrong. Bloody wrong. Is he being brought so he could apologize for his pre-stance on the issue? Is his coming a blithe move to show his alliance with the community? I don’t get this and really do not get what Olumide had in mind when he chose this Abati guy to give the Keynote address. I mean, if he was called upon to be amongst the panel, that would have been fair.

    I don’t get this. I just do not. There are a whole lot of other people who could fill that slot. A lot.

  11. Gag
    December 04, 13:22 Reply

    Its like inviting Bobrisky to an anti-bleaching convention.

    • THE REVEREND
      December 04, 16:31 Reply

      Lol. I love people like you that love to make jokes even in serious situations… ???????

  12. Dimkpa
    December 04, 13:45 Reply

    Wetin concern agboro with overload?

    Either he is coming to apologise to the community he hurt and outline measures for restitution or this is an ambush of sorts, I don’t see what business he has at such a gathering. He branded all gay people paedophiles, he was part of a government that took away the rights of a significant swathe of the population for cheap popularity and now he comes to talk about human rights. Or are we not human? He has not even had the courage to say he was wrong.

    I used to respect Abati a lot till he got into government and I realised he is all talk and no principle. Someone with integrity would have resigned but he chose the money. His brand is tarnished in my opinion and it does not speak well of TIERS that they chose him. This is a slap in the face of all those who have suffered and lost their lives because of that love. It is as painful as the time Jonathan told a group of Oxford students that not one gay person has been discriminated against because of the law.

    I wonder when we will get things right and hold people to account and not encourage stupidity. It appears we have not learnt the lesson of Buhari who we elected President despite knowing his antecedents and he has come back with the same problem on steroids.

  13. Mitch
    December 04, 15:57 Reply

    Honestly, this issue pierced my soul when I found out about it. How can Abati, a known homophobe, be made keynote speaker at an LGBT convention? The madness is just off the charts

    • Bryce
      December 04, 16:21 Reply

      A Human Rights conference, not just LGBT.
      And why not?.He is human,no?

      • Jeova Sanctus Unus
        December 04, 17:16 Reply

        What silliness is this? Trying to be ‘punny’? Is it cattle that disrespect humans, or is it humans that do same? Is it dogs that enslave humans? Is it birds that rape humans? Is it spirits, ghouls, ogres, or pigs that commit every manner of atrocity against other human beings?
        Why don’t we invite Nazis to an AntiSemitism Conference or the KKK to an NAACP gathering? Know what? One Million Mums want a seat at the next GLAAD conference, they’d like to use that opportunity to blow the “pedophiles” to hell. Send an IV to Shekau too while you’re at it. Silly.

        • Bryce
          December 04, 21:22 Reply

          Of course,Abati has committed ‘every manner of atrocity’ against Nigerian LGBT,other than do his paid job then,the Nigerian way of course,however self-serving doing so entailed.
          Yeah,silly me

  14. Chuck
    December 04, 17:48 Reply

    So why is Bisi Alimi fighting Olumide?

  15. Bisi Alimi
    December 04, 18:19 Reply

    I think it is important that I say something as a member of this community (not that I am sure of that anymore).

    1- I did not, I never had problems with TIERs. I mean for goodness sake, this organisation started in my house, I love TIERs the way I love my husband and that’s a fact.

    2- There is no problems between me and Olumide, never have been and never will. Olumide grew up under my care, I have known him since my second year at Uunilag, he was just a teenager then. It will be silly and stupid of me to have a problem with him and I say this with no hint of shades or arrogance

    3- I have no problems with Abati being a speaker at the event, irrespective of what you might have heard or read.

    My point has been;
    1- he should not be allowed to dance on the graves of our friends and loved ones by having a platform he championed the criminalisation of. That’s just hypocritical

    2- I would love him at the event (not that I have the power to or not to) but my argument has been, why a keynote speaker and not a panellist? I don’t think that is too much to ask.

    3- Finally, TIERs being the biggest LGBT organisation in Nigeria without a single LGBT person (open or closeted) on his board is bound to make decisions that does not represent the people it serves. When in 2005, I called a group of friends together in my house to start The Independent project, now known as TIERs, the idea was to create a community based and community led organisation. I personally don’t think that’s too much to ask. TIERs has grown for good, but (without being a shade queen, and no form of patronising and those of you here who are my friends and who I talk to everyday know how much i respect the work of Olumide.) we can’t keep being a viewer at the show that defines our lives.

    The moral question is; is this right, that Abati should be given this huge platform? I know I don’t have a say, but a time will come, the younger generations will ask us, why we allowed this to happen. If we start now, who will be the next person? Peter Akintola?

    • Mitch
      December 04, 20:25 Reply

      Thank you Bisi. This is all that needs to be said

    • Lizzy
      December 06, 11:24 Reply

      Hmmm, Me I think this grow up under my care is a bit diminishing, not nice and sound arrogant. I knew about Olu from far since early 2000 when he was working in VI where I use to frequent and I have followed you too for long in the days of your coming out. You both appeared to have had a good relationship for long and supportive of each other but this attitude of yours I see a bit not so good.

      For some reason I feel sometime that you think the community should bow down at your feet, I might be wrong but I feel this. I see this on your Facebook as well and how you relate with people, mostly those who do not agree with you.

  16. Gaya
    December 04, 22:24 Reply

    So there’s no LGBT person in TIERs (open or closeted)… really??? Hah. no wonder thier choice of a Keynote Speaker…

  17. Lizzy
    December 05, 07:56 Reply

    I hardly comment on these things but followed comments here and there, just few questions

    1 What is this event? Is this a community event or public event? What is the event aim itself, maybe if we check this with them we might understand. I know they have done many community event in the past and did not bring such persons

    2 Bisi, did you reach out to them first to check why they decided for oga Abati? If you did, you got any reply? It will be good to know why they decided so. If not, then I don’t think it nice enough what you have done from the start and that make me think there is more even if you said none.

    3.Is anyone aware of the plan for the event and some of the work they have done before going public? I ask this because there might be a reason. And sadly, they never created that opportunity to know, rather have seen comment horrible comment to them and engagement and this is bad for the community and the people doing the work

    4.I feel many of us did follow follow without asking question politely or trying to understand the event/ reason for decision, it was too much of bring them down approach and it bad in all way, either way we look at it.

    5. Bisi, I see your comment about open/closeted LGBT, and I see people already confusing this for the entire organization. Is Olumide not gay again? I know people at TIERs who are community member, don’t let us create another confusion.

    I will reach out to him today to talk about this but for me, understanding the event and why they made that choice is much better than all the initial pull them down attitude most of us started with and that is our biggest issues even as a community, we don’t have to agree.

    • Bryce
      December 05, 14:09 Reply

      A voice of reason.
      God bless you.

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