IPOB Sit-at-Home Matters Arising

Next Monday, Anambra State, together with the rest of the Southeast states, will again witness another round of sit-at-home directive by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. The first in the planned series of such action was witnessed last Monday and is expected to continue until IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is released by the Federal Government from prison, even if it takes donkey years.

In the wake of the IPOB order/threat that no one should step out of their homes last week, the Anambra State Government countered by ordering workers to go to work or lose their August salary, explaining that measures had been taken to compile the names of defaulters.

Government’s directive was interpreted in many quarters to mean that the government had made adequate arrangements to secure those who would obey their order, especially the civil servants. While Awka, the capital city, witnessed relative peace; with many civil servants reporting to work, other major parts of the state like Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia, were virtually shut down.

What was more, three people were reportedly killed in Nnewi in the early hours of the sit-at-home strike. The streets of these three cities were indeed, ghost-like, as human and vehicular movement were reduced to the barest minimum. Shops and other businesses were equally closed. By all means, the sit-at-home directive hugely succeeded in those areas. However, whether its success was out of fear of a backlash or loyalty is another matter altogether.

But one fact that stuck out like a sore thumb was what appeared to be government’s inability to walk their talk by adequately protecting citizens from harassment and intimidation, given what played out in Nnewi and Onitsha.

This has raised fears as to the future success of government’s directive to workers to report to work. While Awka was relatively peaceful, it must be noted that Awka is not the only city in the state. Many workers still come from such places as Onitsha, Nnewi and even Enugu. Given the fact that such people will travel for quite a distance to come to Awka, one would have expected that better arrangements should have been made for their safety and convenience.

Indeed, of what use was directing workers to come to work when the means of transportation in some parts of the state was lacking? It is one thing for a worker to want to go to work but quite another for such a person to find a vehicle, apart from the issue of security.

That Nnewi, Onitsha and Ekwulobia heavily complied with IPOB’s directive, is worrisome. Also that many stayed home out of fear showed a lack of faith in the ability of government to ensure their safety.

Yes, we acknowledge the difficulty in checking the activities of the pro-Biafra agitators; but we believe that a little more could have been done by the state government to encourage and protect those willing to perform their lawful duties.

Indeed, the activities of the pro-Biafra agitators increasingly leave much to be desired. That they could call for a sit-at-home and use force to enforce it is a direct affront on the state government; there just cannot be two different governments in a state. No government would tolerate such.

Therefore, calling government’s bluff and threatening to deal with those who contravened IPOB’s directive, and actually doing that; as seen in Nnewi, was a call to anarchy and this is not acceptable. We have always maintained that staying home or not should be optional. Those who like to stay home are within their rights to do so just as those who do not wish to.

We cannot therefore understand why anyone should attack others who want to perform their lawful duties. This aspect of coercion is a big minus for IPOB. Applying force leaves the situation open to being hijacked by hoodlums, which, we believe, actually happened. It should not be this way.

No matter how much we like Kanu, all our actions must fall within the ambit of the law. Besides, we have queried the effectiveness of disturbing the polity in our land to spite the Federal Government when they do not care and when our actions here don’t affect them.

Therefore going ahead to shut down the Southeast and going about to harass people is mere foolishness. What is happening now is how Boko Haram berthed in the north. The monsters we create now in the name of agitation will come back to destroy us unless we double back and think like rational people.

Insisting on bullying people out of the streets by IPOB can only lead to more needless deaths.

We are thus calling on those who enjoy the listening ears of IPOB to tell them to stop their destructive activities at home. A disunited home front will not augur well for anyone.

May we see a positive change next Monday and other Mondays. Igbo people are known for their intelligence and aversion to blood shedding. What we see now is far from telling who we are.