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Obasanjo recalls how he experienced ‘Igbophobia’ after appointing Okonjo-Iweala, Charles Soludo while in office

Former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned the “persistent” aversion of some Nigerians to the Igbos, which he describes as ‘Igbophobia’

In Obasanjo’s administration which spanned 1999 to 2007, Soludo served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while Okonjo-Iweala, the current World Trade Director General was the Minister of Finance.

Speaking at an event in Anambra State on Saturday, March 25, to commemorate Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s one year in office, Obasanjo stated that Soludo, who worked closely with him as an economic adviser, “never misadvised me”, and the economist’s performance impressed him so much that he was asked to lead the apex bank.

He said Soludo was the second Nigerian CBN governor who was not a commercial banker.

Obasanjo said after appointing Okonjo Iweala, he soon found himself being confronted by a dissenting voice.

“Somebody came to me and said, ‘Wow! You have ruined the economy of Nigeria.’ I said, ‘How?’ He said, ‘An Igbo woman, Minister of Finance; an Igbo man, Governor of the Central Bank? Then you have clearly completed the task of ruining the economy of Nigeria.’

“I don’t know why he said that, except for what I can call Igbophobia, and I don’t take that lightly. It remains, it persists. But when you have that type of thing that was said to me and the type of thing that you know is going on, as I have just called it, what do we do with it?

“I believe we have to go back to the scripture, which says we must conquer evil with good. And whoever you are, wherever people are afraid of you, you must make yourself friendly to those who are afraid of you and earn their friendship by being good to them, and that is what we have to do,” Obasanjo said.

He added that the appointments of Okonjo-Iweala and Soludo were “probably the best of the appointments that I made when I was president”.

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