Within the week, a most amazing thing was heard. It was the declaration by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, that his group would hold their referendum on the 16th of February, the same day that Nigerians will be queuing up to elect their president. The fixing of that date for their referendum is the consummation of the threat by IPOB to boycott the general elections.
IPOB is one of the groups championing the emergence of a new Biafra Nation owing to their perceived marginalization of the Igbo Nation in Nigeria.
The decision of IPOB to boycott the elections is despite attempts by other well meaning Igbos to dissuade them from doing so for the simple reason that doing that could hand President Muhammadu Buhari an advantage, especially since the Southeast is one of the zones he is least popular. Thus, if owing to IPOB’s boycott, votes for other candidates are reduced, Buhari will have recorded some advantage as he will expectedly amass votes in his areas of strength.
Although IPOB’s boycott may not eventually amount to much as many of their saner members support participating in the elections, holding their referendum on same day as the presidential election may cause chaos which may actually scare some people from coming out to vote.
But beyond that is what appears the act of stupidity by IPOB in taking an action that will empower a man they have acknowledged as an enemy and against whom there have been allegations of killing, harassing and arresting their members. Even their leader, Kanu, is still being hounded by the Buhari Government.
The obvious thing would have been for IPOB to therefore participate in an election that will help them to vote out their arch enemy, especially when the Biafra dream does not look feasible.
Again, IPOB’s opposition to restructuring is another strange stance. Being that under restructuring every Nigerian, including IPOB members, will enjoy a new lease of life, it becomes rather strange that IPOB will be opposing it but rather electing to undertake a venture (referendum) that is well nigh impossible to achieve in the present circumstances.
It is therefore our view that IPOB’s stance on the elections is self-defeating and amounts to foolishness which happens when one shoots oneself in the foot.
We call on IPOB to reconsider their stance and participate in the elections, especially since holding their referendum on the day of the presidential poll can lead to violence and loss of life.
The major task before the rest of Nigerians is to effect a leadership change that will liberate the country from the clutches of those who believe it is their birthright to rule; even when their leadership has been anything but abysmal.
Surely, IPOB can do better and should do better. It is certainly better to vote and elect a better person than not to do so and remain where they are.