A Chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) Senator Abubakar Girei, has said Igbos are naive and the worst enemies of themselves.
The ex-lawmaker, who represented Adamawa Central in the Senate, between 1999 and 2003, said that all attempts to make late Sen. Chuba Okadigbo to be president in 2007 were scuttled by the political elites in Igbo land.
He said this in an interview with the Sun Newspaper against the backdrop of the recent proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Girei, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said: “To be honest with you, the North feels that the political naivety of the people of the south east has been exposed because I don’t see how people with the intelligence, education, experience and the spread the Igbo have in this country and even beyond could be talking about secession when you own the whole of Nigeria as far as we are concerned.
“We stand to be corrected and you are now talking of limiting yourself to the south east you call Biafra. I mean this is the height of political naivety. How I wish the likes of Chuba Okadigbo were alive. With his political sagacity he would have really called the Igbo to order.
“As the landlord of Nigeria why should you be talking of going back to a small hamlet called Biafra? Honestly this is my opinion and I believe this is the opinion of most people in the North. People that are so blessed throughout the country. Is it not the Igbo that own this country, you think it is the Hausa-Fulani? The Hausa-Fulani don’t own this country. It is the Igbo that own this country. You find them all over this country not as shoe shiners, nail cutters or water hewers. You find them as businessmen making money, owning properties, creating wealth
“Let me tell you. You remember what happened in 2002, 2003? I was in the Senate with Chuba Okadigbo and the others. We came together and then networked with the then APP, negotiated and changed the name of the party from APP to ANPP, negotiated a slot for the vice-presidency to be given to Chuba Okadigbo. It was not Buhari that made Chuba Okadigbo his running mate. Buhari simply accepted it.
“It was a negotiated deal between our group, the Chuba Group nationwide and the APP as a political party which chose to change its name from APP to ANPP. They then conceded the vice-presidential slot to us, to Chuba Okadigbo in person which Buhari accepted and endorsed. Buhari also accepted to do only one term of four years only; that is between 2003 and 2007 and then power would have automatically gone to Chuba Okadigbo, an Igbo man from the south east of Nigeria.
“That was the negotiation. That was our own agreement. It was our own internal agreement. If it had succeeded we would have sustained it. It would have automatically followed because Buhari would have respected that. He stood for it. We stood for it and we would have gotten Chuba to be president by 2007.
“Of course, the South easterners aborted it.
“I was in it. I was in Oyi in Anambra State in Okadigbo’s village during the election. All the Igbo ganged up against ANPP. They went and negotiated with Obasanjo and voted PDP. In fact, they did not allow Chuba himself to cast his vote in his village. That was what happened. I was there. I was in Oyi village live during the presidential election of 2003. I was not alone. We were about eight former Senators and prominent northerners who went there to support Chuba Okadigbo as our vice-presidential candidate. The south east completely rejected that. That is why we always wonder if these people are really politicians.
“This very Ben Nwabueze, I and Chuba Okadigbo visited his house in Lagos. We were there. His house is not very far from Chuba’s house in Lagos, in Apapa to be precise. I accompanied Chuba. We were there; I and the former NPN National Secretary, Uba Ahmed. I remember very clearly that we visited him as one of the prominent leaders of Igbo to brief him about this arrangement. There was no prominent Igbo man that we didn’t brief about this arrangement. They all knew. So, when we see them girating about this IPOB and other things…my friend, the Igbo as far as I am concerned are the ones dragging us down.”