Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticized “Igbophobia,” or discrimination against the Igbo ethnic minority in Nigeria.
Obasanjo said at an event in Anambra to honor Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s one-year anniversary in office that he was impressed by the governor’s performance as his economic adviser during his presidency and later as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He recalled that when he selected Soludo and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as finance ministers, someone informed him that choosing Igbos for such positions was a mistake.
Obasanjo stated that he does not take Igbophobia lightly and recommended that Nigerians must defeat evil with good. He urged people to befriend those who are fearful of them and to earn their friendship by being good to them. He emphasized that the nominations of Soludo and Iweala were among the greatest he made as president.
In a related development, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chairman of the Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, stated that there is no conflict in Nigeria between the Igbo and Yoruba people. Iwuanyanwu made this remark at the same event that was attended by luminaries from around the country, including the Chairman of THISDAY/ARISE Media Group, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, and the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo claimed that he initially opposed Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s aspiration to head the state. He stated that he had planned for Soludo to take on a larger role than governor and was unhappy when he declared his desire to run for governor.
He eventually backed Soludo’s ambition and informed him that he may run, but that he should remember that he had reserved him for a national or international assignment. Soludo, an economic consultant to Obasanjo, later impressed him so much that he invited him to manage the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Obasanjo’s rejection of Igbophobia and his appeal to defeat evil with good is a timely message for Nigerians to embrace peace and togetherness over hatred and division. The ceremony also allowed dignitaries to commemorate Governor Soludo’s one-year in office and his accomplishments in Anambra State, which included hiring 5,000 teachers and 3,000 health workers and constructing various highways. Obasanjo and Iwuanyanwu’s words also put to rest any suspicions of a conflict between the Igbo and Yoruba peoples in Nigeria.