The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina told Radio Continental over the weekend that President Buhari does not hate the Igbos.
He was asked: Does Mr President actually hate Igbos?
“When the President ran for political office in 2003, who was his running mate? Dr Chuba Okadigbo. And in 2007? Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke. If he hated Igbos would he run with them?
That shows you the respect and the regard he has for Igbos, it was political reality that compelled him to come south-west in 2011 and in 2015. Let me tell you a story.
“There is a prominent Igbo family in this country, if I mention their names you would know them, they are very prominent in the society. They told me a story that in the 70s, President Buhari was Minister of Petroleum, the family wanted to join the petroleum industry and then they made a bid. By then, there were not too many Nigerians playing in that industry, and there was a lot of scepticism from those around the then Lt Colonel Buhari, who was Oil Minister.
“They all said they don’t believe that the company as represented by that family had the capacity to play in the industry. This family told me that eventually, they got to Lt Colonel Buhari, he listened to them, and asked them; ‘Are you sure you have the capacity to do this?’ And they told him, ‘we can do it’. Then he removed his military cap, banged it on the table and told them, ‘it is done.’ And he instructed that they give them that opportunity they wanted in the oil industry and today that family is so big and they never forget that the then Colonel Buhari as oil minister gave them the break they needed. They told me that story about three weeks ago.
“The next day, when I saw the president, I told him the story. He laughed and then went on to tell me that when people say he is against the Igbos, it baffles him, that really he never knew that family, he just trusted the assurance they gave him that they could play in the oil industry, and today they are very big. He went further to say that even under PTF, so many Nigerians, including Igbos, benefitted a lot. So there is no way you can say the man hates Igbos.
“The second Niger bridge is on the budget in 2016. Let’s recall that the last President sometime in 2011 said that he would complete that second Niger bridge before 2015. He didn’t even go beyond the architectural drawing, but in 2016 budget, that project is there.”