How does one begin to address strong issues of great importance delicately?
How does one get redress for a wrong done by a minority organization without being termed as malicious and vindictive?
How do we get people to understand that being a minority organization or a member of a minority group does not excuse you from objective criticism?
Bigotry, sexism, censorship, lack of regards for facts, misrepresentation, bullying should not rear its ugly head in a progressive organization, certainly not in an ATHEISTS organization, and if it reared its ugly head, this should not be welcomed or swept under the carpet.
No organization should claim a free pass from objective criticism because it is a minority, fledgling organization. If you want to preach reason and logic to the world as a group, be ready to practice what you preach starting from within your group.
As a woman who has been actively engaged in activism over the decades as a student union leader, full time career trade unionist and human right activist, I have had many encounters with bigotry, sexism, censorship, harassment and bullying amongst so many called “comrades’ but I must confess I was really shocked to be confronted with these ‘uglies’ in an Atheists group!
I have never held the opinion that Atheists are better people just because they do not believe in the existence of any God or because they don’t have imaginary Sky daddies and Water mummies, but I always thought that every atheist would AT LEAST GIVE RATIONAL THINKING a chance in every debate, how wrong I was!
This was forcefully made apparent to me when I raised valid objections to the minutes of Nigerian Atheists group first ever meeting and what came out was an exposure of the true characters of people who wanted to camouflage as atheists! The revelation stinks to high heavens!
It is a pity that some group members were of the opinion that because the person who raised the objection to the minutes is a woman and the one who wrote the minutes is a man, therefore it is a Boy Vs Girl issue. This is a great disservice to our evolved brain. This is an OBJECTION with facts, why should the focus be on gender?
In an effort to trivialize legitimate, valid concerns of members of this group, some have referred to our concerns as “Women rantings” and “Girls doing their thing”, also bullying has been employed to try and censor some female members who dared to raise their voice. How do we even begin to explain some chauvinist and misogynist language used by some members of this group without caution?
Female members were called “bitches” and “motherfuckas”, homophobic comments were used against a member of this group and his home address posted online, thereby endangering his life especially in the highly volatile, homophobic Northern part of Nigeria! There were threats to rape women and ram dicks up their mothers’ ass and yet, the admin members of this group ‘Nigerian Atheists’ (who BTW added these people to the group) did not deem it fit to caution on the use of offensive language, in fact one member actually said he found the contribution of a misogynist to be Intelligent!
How does Nigerian Atheists even begin to move on as a group without addressing these important issues? Nigerian Atheists claim to want to ‘preach’ the use of common sense to the world, but pray, how do you give what you do not have?
Atheists do not get to have a free pass from criticism just because they are a minority group or because I identify as an Atheist. Atheists worth their salt should not be afraid of scrutiny; they should welcome objective, critical scrutiny of any Atheists organization and its mode of operandi.
This is where I read for the first time, this mysterious MINUTES of the meeting as this MINUTES of the meeting was NEVER posted on the Nigerian Atheists group page, but FIRST ended up in a FOREIGN BLOG, SkepticMoney!
Majority of the comments on the blog post are deriding NIGERIAN ATHEISTS as a possible SCAM GROUP looking for INTERNATIONAL FUNDING! If proper advised had been sourced by Kunle Ogunyemi before making the UNILATERAL decision to ask Phil Ferguson to post the unapproved minutes of Nigerian Atheists meeting on his blog, we would at least have thought of a better way to introduce this group to the world, but NO, he had to do it all alone.
BTW, why should the minutes of the meeting be what was posted in a foreign blog as promotional stuff? And that again is one of the major issues I raised in my objection to the minutes of the meeting.
Here is a link on the Nigerian Atheists meeting’s minutes on REDDIT, not a good promotional strategy I would say, that sure backfired, the comments are killing!
For all anyone knows, Kunle Ogunyemi could have also begged other “foreigners’ that he has suddenly befriended on facebook to help promote “HIS NEW GROUP”. Ethically Phil Ferguson could withdraw his earlier post of the minutes of the meeting from his blog or he could do a follow up bringing the attention of his readers to the controversy surrounding the Group and its controversial minutes, however he is not obliged to. KUNLE OGUNYEMI should ask Phil and all others he had sent the minutes of the meeting, to cease from publishing it until all clearance has been given by the group.
KUNLE OGUNYEMI needs to understand that even though he was appointed Secretary of Nigerian Atheists group, HE is not the Group. An argument or disagreement with KUNLE OGUNYEMI is not the same as a disagreement with NIGERIAN ATHEISTS group. This African dictator WARLORD mentality must stop. You cannot seek to take out the speck in your religious brothers and sisters eyes when you have a LOG in your own eyes!
BTW, what is “atheistic values” that Kunle Ogunyemi referred to in this controversial minutes … gawd, I bet the more enlightened atheists reading the minutes would be convulsing over in a fit of laughter! He wrote in the minutes of the meeting-
Yemisi Ilesanmi complained that the mission is too broad… Ogunyemi Adekunle disagreed with this position, pointing it out that; atheistic values go beyond the mere defense of atheists’ liberty….
Atheism is simply the rebuttal of the belief in theism, a god, a deity, spiritual beings etc. There is NO ATHEIST(IC) VALUES. You can have Christian values, Muslim values, Hindu values, HUMANIST values…but you cannot have ATHEISTIC VALUE because atheism is not a religion or philosophy. Atheism is simply reasonable noises that reasonable people make when told that there is a GOD. I would be embarrassed to have that statement associated with me or with a minutes my name appeared on!
The minutes of the meeting needs to be amended or references to my name in any way taken off it. Although the minutes was written by the secretary of the group, as long as my name appears on the minutes under the group name ‘NIGERIAN ATHEISTS’, my objection and disclaimer will continue to be directed at the group ‘NIGERIAN ATHEISTS’.
I again state categorically that-
- I, Yemisi Ilesanmi has been misrepresented and misquoted in the MINUTES of the meeting of Nigerian Atheists held on February 12, 2012 in Abuja, Nigeria.
-I was appointed Director of the group at the meeting, yet the minutes was not sent to me for amendments or approval, infact the first I saw of this controversial minutes was on a foreign blog, the minutes was not even posted on ‘Nigerian Atheists’ group page.
- I made a request on the group page to know why I was misquoted and portrayed in the minutes as “Yemisi complained” Yemis disagreed” especially considering that it was a group discussion on matters arising at the meeting and all that needed to be made public was the decisions unanimously arrived at the end of the meeting, my request was called “women rantings”!
- I believe the minutes of the meeting was ill motivated especially since it portrays me as a dissident having a constant argument with Kunle Ogunyemi rather than someone sharing her views like other members present at the meeting.
- I stated on the Nigerian Atheists group page and categorically in the Objection document I posted on the page that the minutes of the meeting was never sent to me as someone present at the meeting and as a director of the organization.
- I made several requests on the Nigerian Atheists group page that if I must be quoted at all in the minutes of the meeting, that I should be accurately represented and quoted.
These requests have so far been ignored by the secretary of the group, Kunle Ogunyemi, who wrote the minutes and sent it out for promotion without following due procedures.
The co- director of the group, Dr Tunde Arogundade who was also present at the meeting made several call on Kunle Ogunyemi to amend the controversial minutes to no avail. When the co- director asked Kunle Ogunyemii to recall the controversial minutes of the meeting, Kunle Ogunyemi claimed that this would cause TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES because it is posted online and amendments can’t be done online.
Now an educated, IT savvy person would know Kunle Ogunyemi just told a blatant lie. Dr Tunde Arogundade is an elderly gentleman who is not IT savvy therefore it was easy for Kunle Ogunyemi to make him believe it was impossible to edit an online document. DR TUNDE AROGUNDADE HAS NOW RESIGNED AS DIRECTOR OF NIGERIAN ATHEISTS GROUP.
It is no mystery that ANYONE WHO CREATES A DOCUMENT ONLINE CAN EDIT IT.
What Kunle Ogunyemi needs to do to amend the minutes of the meeting is-
1- Amend/edit the original document if saved on his PC
2- Rewrite the minutes if it was not saved, although he can do a copy and paste of the minutes from the foreign blog he sent it to.
3- He should send the amended version to ALL members present at the meeting and POST the approved version on the NIGERIAN ATHEISTS group page.
4- He should call for a RECALL of the controversial minutes from whatever blogs or bloggers he already sent the minutes of the meeting.
5- If it is the wish of the Nigerian Atheists group to promote the MINUTES of their meeting in foreign blogs, he can then send the AMENDED version to wherever he wants to.
All I ask for is that IF AT ALL MY NAME MUST APPEAR ON THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING, I SHOULD AT LEAST BE CORRECTLY QUOTED AND REPRESENTED. However, I see no reason why individuals should be quoted; a public minutes of a meeting should contain what a group unanimously agreed on, not what individuals say or didn’t say.
I am again flabbergasted by these immoral, unethical, two faced lies spurned by Kunle Ogunyemi all in an attempt to satisfy whatever it is that is making him behave in such an irrational manner. I am all for LOGIC, REASON and FACTS and his action so far and that of his supporters have done nothing but proved a total disregard for TRUTH, HONESTY, EQUITY and JUSTICE. CHARACTER IS INDEED WHAT WE DO WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING.
I am aware that every other person that attended the meeting was invited by Kunle Ogunyemi, however this should not justify their support of his irrational and malicious action. When you say “THE MINUTES IS CORRECT BECAUSE Kunle Ogunyemi, Gamba Joel, Leke Adepoju and Andrew Nandip, say so “ , this is basically the same thing as a Christian saying.. “GOD EXISTS BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SO” or “THE BIBLE IS CORRECT BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SO!” As we as ATHEISTS should know, this is not a valid argument.
The valid argument would be to disprove what I have objected to and prove that due process was followed in the publication of the minutes of the meeting.
Also, you’d have to prove that IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR MY NAME TO APPEAR IN THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING.
All I ask for is a HONEST, OPEN, FACTUAL and LOGICAL discussion…not a show of solidarity influenced by sentiments. I am not on an atheist’s group page for sentimental reasons; I am there to embrace logic, not sentiments.
BTW, asking me to “pipe low” is not a RATIONAL or FAIR DEMAND, I have a right to to be heard and seek redress without censorship from the group under which my name and words has been misrepresented.
It continues to amuse me that people who consider themselves intelligent and rational fail to see the irrationality in their own thoughts and actions basically because they desperately wish to cling to sentiments above any other rationality or facts staring them in the face, they surely share this trait in common with religious fanatics.
The facts have been elucidated in my OBJECTION DOCUMENT to the minutes of the meeting-
1- I was quoted in two places, in the first quote, I was quoted OUT OF CONTEXT, because the particular debate Kunle Ogunyemi associated my quote with was not in the context or debate I used the quote, it was pertaining to a different, unrelated issue.
- Now do I need other persons to validate me on this? NO.
-Has anyone validate me on this? YES. Dr Tunde Arogundade the co- director who was present at the meeting, agreed that I was misquoted.
2- The second place I was quoted was something I NEVER SAID OR BELIEVE IN. I was grossly MISREPRESENTED by that statement and that statement attributed to me goes against every principle I hold dear as a human right activist. I do not wish to be so misrepresented.
- Gamba Joel who was present at the meeting had admitted in earlier conversations that HE, GAMBA JOEL was the one who made the second comment attributed to me in the minutes of the meeting. In the aftermath of these admissions, is it not logical to amend the minutes?
3- I objected to the use of the words ‘Yemisi complained” Yemisi Disagreed” in this very, childish , unprofessional , badly written minutes of the Nigerian Atheists meeting. My agreements or disagreements were discussions with all members present at the meeting, the points I disagreed with were issues discussed at the meeting, it does not matter which members raised the issues as it was all up for discussion.
It is so unfortunate that Kunle Ogunyemi could not understand the difference between criticizing ideas and his personality; it is like a Christian or Muslim getting angry because you criticized the Bible or Quran.
4- I constructively criticized the Mission statement Hotem Dajenid and Kunle Ogunyemi drafted and some members of the Nigerian Atheists group who read my objection document and comments have said that they agreed with my take on the Mission statement of this group. Now, the Mission statement was up for discussion because nothing should be above criticism, not even the Holy Mission Statement drafted by Hotem Dajenid and Kunle Ogunyemi.
5- The meeting eventually came to an agreement on the Mission statement but did Kunle Ogunyemi post the agreed Mission statement? NO. Kunle Ogunyemi went ahead to post the original Mission Statement WITHOUT THE AMENDMENTS AGREED AT THE MEETING.
Dr Tunde Arogundade even confirmed that KUNLE OGUNYEMI told him the reason he didn’t send the minutes to me was because he knew I was going to complain about the Mission Statement.
Wow! If the minutes ACCURATELY RECORDED what was agreed at the meeting, why should Kunle Ogunyemi be afraid that I would criticize his HOLY MINUTES?
And is the purpose of sending minutes round to members not to allow members make necessary AMENDMENTS? So Kunle Ogunyemi chose to send the minutes only to people who would NOT DARE DISAGREE WITH HIM. Hmmm….How could anyone who claims to value facts and Logic thinks this is ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR?
Now a crucial fact of the case remains that DUE PROCESS WAS NOT FOLLOWED BEFORE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING WAS MADE PUBLIC, NOTHING, NO AMOUNT OF TANTRUMS, SILENCE, BIGOTRY, SECRETS PHONE CALLS, SOLIDARITY OR SENTIMENTS CAN CHANGE THIS FACT.
In every meeting ESPECIALLY in a MINORITY meeting, every member has the right not to have their name mentioned in a public document, I have the right to demand that my name be removed from the minutes of the meeting. THIS IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE.
A professional minutes does not include names of who said what, who disagreed, or who complained, it only include the general decisions arrived at, why does Kunle Ogunyemi feel the need to mention names?
I state again, IF AT ALL I MUST BE QUOTED IN THE MINUTES OF THE NIGERIAN ATHEISTS MEETING, I insist that I should be correctly quoted and my words not taken OUT OF CONTEXT. This is my right, and a very LOGICAL and RATIONAL demand.
A healthy debate is good for the development of human mind but an INJUSTICE especially when done intentionally and maliciously bear humanity no good. Equity demands that “Where there is a Wrong, there must be a Right”.
I have been maliciously represented and misquoted in the minutes of the meeting that gave birth to this group, ‘Nigerian Atheists’. This wrong can be easily righted through an amendment of the minutes. It is not even a must that my name should appear in the minutes of the meeting as I definitely no longer wish to be associated with the characters and principles of some major persons in the Nigerian Atheists group.
I do not wish to have a minutes of a meeting where I was misrepresented and misquoted, circulating online. The minutes of the meeting should be recalled and amended and we can all go our separate ways. JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.
Moving on without JUSTICE is not an option; it is a cowardly way out. I have been misrepresented in the minutes of the Nigerian Atheists group; I will keep on demanding that this is rectified. It is not trolling, it is not vindictiveness, it is not ego, it is simply STANDING UP FOR MY RIGHT NOT TO BE MISREPRESENTED AND MISQUOTED.
I am never tired of standing up for rights and will do everything LOGICAL to make my case and defend my rights. As Einstein said, the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them and do nothing.
(This was first posted on 24 June, 2012 on the Nigerian atheist group Facebook page, my Facebook notes, my old blog and now posted here for easy reference.)
Related articles on the subject of Nigerian Atheists group and its controversial minutes and conduct.
Following the refusal of the Secretary of Nigeria Atheists group, Kunle Ogunyemi to amend the minutes of the meeting as necessary and follow due process in seeking approval for publication, the co- director of the Nigerian Atheists group Dr Tunde Arogundade has also tendered his resignation. I have also resigned as Director of Nigerian Atheists group.
I, YEMISI ILESANMI, HEREBY STATE THAT THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING CONTAINS INACCURACIES AND I DO NOT WISH TO BE ASSOCIATED IN ANY WAY WITH THE GROUP ‘NIGERIAN ATHEISTS’. THANK YOU