For over one month, IPOB’s sit-at-home order has been prevailing in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. Ostensibly, the leaders of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, who are spearheading this order seem to be oblivious of the ruins this singular action has brought upon the region. From instilling fear into the residents, sending a negative impression of the geopolitical zone worldwide, scaring investors, to crippling the South East economy. Apparently, IPOB leaders have a shallow knowledge of who Buhari is, and need to be told that the man whom they hope to perturb by this recurring decimal, cares less about the Igbo. It is truly unfortunate that violence has stylishly penetrated and overwhelmed the South East – a region perceived as the safest. But what is more disturbing is IPOB’s strategy of halting indigenous businesses with the hope of getting Buhari’s attention. It is no longer news that Buhari’s state of origin, Katsina has seen the crux of violence yet he is unbothered. Since he neither has a business in the South East nor relations, how then does IPOB expect him to be affected by the sit-at-home order? To be candid, if this situation continues to thrive, everything the Igbos worked relentlessly for, will go down the drain.
IPOB declared the sit-at-home order on 19th August, 2021 as a strategy to protest the detention of its leader, Maazi Nnamdi Kanu. The ”Ghost Monday” which holds from 6am – 6pm every Monday, is intended to compel President Buhari to release the group’s leader. Obviously, IPOB pressed the wrong button as this strategy has become detrimental to the region.
The first sit-at-home order declared by Kanu himself on 30th May, had massive compliance, in that the reason was perceived as cogent. Willingly, Ndigbo sat at home as a memorial day for Biafran fallen heroes.
In the same vein, it was advantageous, especially because it changed the notion that Igbo, as an acephalous group, are not united. It proved to the world that Ndigbo can unanimously take a stance and see that it is accomplished.
A sneak peek into the reason for total compliance of the succeeding sit-at-home order reveals that people adhere as a result of fear. Nobody wants to leave his house and meet his death. Thursday 9th and Tuesday 14th September were also declared another sit at home days. The first was meant to serve as an embarrassment to Buhari who visited Imo State while the second, held on 14th September was set aside to remember the massacre carried out by the military men few years ago at Nnamdi kanu’s residence in Afaraukwu, Umuahia. As good as that may sound, boycotting commercial and social activities in ”Biafraland” is totally insignificant.
The group needs to understand that there are people who depend on daily earnings to live; the hawkers, artisans, roadside sellers etc. These people are deprived of their daily bread if they do not go about their businesses everyday. Does Buhari in Aso Rock feel the brunt? Does he care about hungry families who starve on sit-at-home days? Does he care about perishable food traders who count their losses every week? If he is not affected, why then is IPOB destroying its home?
A house against itself cannot stand. IPOB’s focus should be on ideal ways of strengthening and advancing the economy of the South East and not the other way around. They should impede every means of initiating or sustaining violence in the region, thus creating an atmosphere that will attract investors.
This sit-at-home order has a negative impression in the minds of prospective investors. It sends a message that Igboland isn’t the best place to set up a business at the moment. Who would want to invest in a region overtaken by violence? There are seven (7) days in a week, of which 6 or 5 out of seven, are working days. Taking Monday, the first working day of the week out of the working days, four(4) or five (5) days are left. Who then would invest in a place which is now left with 4/5 working days? Definitely this IPOB strategy will scare investors, thereby hindering developments.
It is crystal clear that IPOB has become the ”commander” of the South East, making it look as though the governors have lost their legitimacy. Citizens and residents now ignore government orders for IPOB’s. Has the government lost its authority?
This is not only a slap on the faces of the state governors but also, a wake up call. How can a group totally shut down commercial and social activities in states which have elected leaders? Does it mean the governors have been rendered incapacitated? This new development spells impending doom; IPOB is giving orders today but it could be terrorists tomorrow. If the state governments cannot protect their subjects as they should, then they’ve lost their power.
The state governors who threatened to rid residents (who fail to go about their Monday activities) of their jobs, were disobeyed. They watched their threats fall on deaf ears. The led are unsure of their leaders’ capability of protecting them and securing their business/work premises. They would rather lose their jobs, than their lives. Ndu bu isi (Life is paramount). Those who defied IPOB’s order had themselves to blame. Some business premises were vandalised and commercial vehicles razed, serving as a deterrent to intending flouters.
When the reason for something is not known, abuse is inevitable. Right now, most people feel uncomfortable with what is happening in the South East remembering that the goal of establishing IPOB/ESN was for the goodwill of Ndigbo. However, hoodlums have disguised as IPOB/ESN to cause mayhem in ”Biafraland”. The plan to rip the South East of its glory has been drawn and those serving as a tool to accomplish it should desist.
The saying ”strike the shepherd and the cattle will scatter”, is what has happened in the South East. Since the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, instructions and counter instructions have been coming from different angles, making it difficult for their supporters to know which one to follow. From Kanu’s brother, Chika Edoziem, Emma Powerful, to Simon Ekpa. Too many cooks spoil the broth. The pitfall in Kanu’s pattern of leadership is its unitarian nature. As a leader, Kanu should have appointed a second in command who would take over from him but since he didn’t, making IPOB a disorganised group, IPOB should come together, pick another leader and decide better ways of carrying out their activities.
IPOB needs to restrategize. They should think of better ways instead of this ineffective sit-at-home order. As long as commercial and social activities thrive in Abuja and Lagos, and oil wells unaltered, Buhari is at peace.
When you inflict yourself and beckon on someone you regard as your enemy to save you? He will happily add salt to your injury, then sit back and watch you wail.
IPOB should not plunge the South East in a ditch by crippling the region and expect Buhari to be affected.
In reviewing the overstretched sit-at-home order, one would see that its impact is drastically on the negative side.The earlier this comes to an end, the better for everyone. Obviously, It will take a while for unstable businesses to recover what was lost but in all, the Igbo will rise again, they always do.
Written by Janefrances Chinwe Iwuchukwu
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