Sour Taste Of Sit-At-Home Protest

By Casmir Igbokwe

The killing of Emeka Merenu, a priest of the Anglican Church, has left a nasty taste in the mouths of many Nigerians. Rev. Merenu was said to have invited soldiers to protect the mission school where he was the principal in Imo State. Some renegades masquerading as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) saw it as an affront. They went to his parsonage at Ihiteukwa in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State, killed him and set his car ablaze.

This happened last Tuesday. The day before this callous act, being Monday, September 13, 2021, some hoodlums had stormed a secondary school at Nkume, in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State. They not only chased away children writing their West African School Certificate examination, they also set the motorbikes of their invigilators on fire.

In Emene area of Enugu, another set of hoodlums reportedly torched a bus loaded with bread and some tricycles. They also set another bus ablaze at Nanka in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. The drivers of these vehicles were accused of violating the sit-at-home order on Tuesday, September 14. It was in remembrance of 28 people killed by soldiers at Kanu’s father’s palace at Afaraukwu in Abia State.

These incidents and more are fallout of the criminal hijack of a unique protest by IPOB. The organization had recently declared every Monday a day to sit at home to show solidarity with its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu had jumped bail and later fled Nigeria a few years ago. He was rearrested in Kenya through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian intelligence and security services. He was brought back to Nigeria on June 27 and charged with treasonable felony, terrorism and possession of illegal firearms, among others. Since then, he has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).

It is worthy to note that IPOB had garnered the support and sympathy of many Igbo people who believed they were fighting a just cause. Truly, the South-East region of Nigeria has been the butt of injustice and marginalization. It fought a bloody civil war with the rest of Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. Millions of people perished in that conflict. At the end of the war, the then government of General Yakubu Gowon declared that there was no victor, no vanquished. It initiated what it called the three R’s: Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. But the issuance of £20 pounds to every Igbo man even if he had £20 billion in the bank was the first indication that the three R’s were dead on arrival.

In terms of reconciliation and reconstruction, nothing much has been done. Some elements in Nigeria still view the Igbo with suspicion. That is why no Igboman has been found worthy to be President of Nigeria since the war ended. In political and security appointments, especially with the present government, the Igbo are not given what is due to them. When other regions have at least six states, the South-East has five. This has affected allocation of resources and the rate of development in the region. Also, the federal presence in the South-East in the area of infrastructure is poor compared to other regions of the country.

Besides, at the slightest provocation, the Igbo are killed and their property destroyed in some parts of the country, especially in the North. They have been the ones rehabilitating themselves. Being industrious and hardworking, they don’t wait for any government to do things for them.

All these had galvanized the people into forming groups to agitate for self-determination. When IPOB organized the first sit-at-home protest to honour Biafran fallen heroes on May 30, 2014, it was a huge success. Since then, it has been an annual event held every May 30. And it always records huge compliance.

Initially, these recent protests that started August 9 in solidarity with Kanu were also successful. But there were complaints that doing it every week would seriously cripple the economy of the South-East.

IPOB listened to these complaints and called off the action on August 13. It is supposed to hold only on the day Kanu appears in court.

But some hoodlums disregarded this directive and went ahead to commit crimes in the name of enforcement of the sit-at-home order. Realising the damage these sad developments have caused to its image, IPOB quickly issued a statement denying involvement in the callous acts.

IPOB’s media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, reiterated that IPOB had long suspended the weekly sit-at-home protests and would deal with those doing this current damage as traitors.           

As he put it, “IPOB is a responsible organization with reasoning and empathy. We cannot be part of the problem we are trying to solve. We cannot join the enemies to compound the woes of our people we are fighting to liberate.”

It is good the group took this action because it is already losing the confidence and sympathy of many Ndigbo. It does not make sense to subject the people you claim to be fighting for to untold hardship and fear. As a form of protest, sit-at-home draws attention to the plight of a people. It is good when it is occasional. But when it is continuous, it becomes problematic.

The people mostly affected are the ordinary citizens who depend on their daily sales or work to survive. The economy of the South-East has also been affected. Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, said for any day the protest held, the South-East lost not less than N10 billion. I have not seen how this personally affects President Muhammadu Buhari and his acolytes who can afford four square meals a day.

The future of our children, whose examination was disrupted, is also at stake. They were stopped from writing an important subject like English. Without English, you can’t gain admission into a higher institution in Nigeria. The disruption was out of character of an average Igboman who loves education.

Moreover, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that if the sit-at-home protest continues, it may adversely affect the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State. We pray it does not get to this point.

Henceforth, IPOB must be clear-cut in its directives. There should be no room for counter-orders. It used to be a disciplined and peaceful organization. It should continue that way and try as much as possible to avoid downward trajectories. The criminal elements among them must be fished out and punished. 

 

Re: Dressing Buhari in borrowed garb

It is beyond the realm of doubt that Governors Umahi and Uzodimma’s circus show was a way of acting ‘politically correct’, even in the face of utter discomfort. Whether literally or literarily, the President was robed in an attire he didn’t deserve. Nigeria’s President must wear a nationalist’s disposition, both in deeds and speech. Why would our President describe a part of Nigeria as ‘a dot in a circle?’ And the expression ‘we are going to be very hard sooner than later’ amounts to a threat. There is no expression that can be more un-presidential, inciting and utterly insulting than this to any Nigerian race, let alone one widely known for its incredible spread, resilience, industry and uncanny ability of squeezing out water from a rock.

The President’s media men have a lot of work to do. They have a duty to work on the President and also weigh on a balance of civility what statements our President intends before they are churned out for public consumption. These days, we are confronted with a multiplicity of arguments on which zone should produce our 2023 President. Some of these arguments are fallacious and anchored on sheer fraud. We have heard and read that the very beneficiaries of the gains of Federal Character are also the very people who oppose the zoning of the presidential seat under the guise of its unconstitutionality while dramatising ‘merit’ as if past occupants of the seat were there on merit. 

– Edet Essien Esq., Cal. South, 08037952470

Casmir, the problem in this country is that so many people are hypocrites. At any time, they’re interested in themselves. They can go to any length to achieve their selfish desires.

The relationship between Ndigbo and Buhari is not cordial. All his actions on matters relating to South-East prove that.  It’s ridiculous to hear from any South-East governor that Buhari loves them. History will judge every one of his actions.

– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

Dear Casmir, while other tribes in Nigeria may complain of marginalization, the Igbo experience stigmatization. It’s the most oppressed people nationwide because her elite prefer their personal pockets and ambitions. Igbo leaders should consult their Western and South-South counterparts for expert advice.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

Dear Casy, note that in a polygamous home, when DISLIKE turns to HATRED and same unleashed on the hated wife, after bearing it with fortitude and the hatred is unabated, the woman would be tempted to look elsewhere for a man that would assuage her feelings with love so unjustly denied. This scenario simply represents the Igbo position as well as other ethnic nations equally mangled and manacled by inequities and inequalities in Nigeria’s current dispensation driven by clannish slant. Hence the revulsions! Let PMB pull off the clannish robe and sincerely address the injustice and insecurity. ‘Ba magana!’ No more ‘dogon turanci!’ As for Gov. Umahi, let him be reminded that when ambition is mismanaged, it turns into nuisance. Again, as he fakes around, God equally fakes along. ‘Anyi ma ndi bu ndi m’olue.’ Translated; we shall be properly guided when the time comes.

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731

Dear Casy, the borrowed and undeserved garb, which Dave and Ozodimgba packaged the number one Igbo hater and the Aso Rock landlord has shown the world how those two Igbo APC governors hate their people. In 2011, 2015 and 2019, the Igbo voted wisely to reject a bad apple and some bad belle people insulted them for having made their choice and today those that vilified them for not voting the APC political marauders, terrorists, corrupt and wicked men and women had since recanted. Everybody has his right to associate with even Lucifer and his demons but those Igbo that are now busy destroying the platform that made them kings and queens are heading into political Golgotha and the graveyard. Let me remind them that their achievements so far in office aren’t enough sweet honey that will drag Igbo race into that mini hell called APC. Nigeria has failed under Buhari and his Miyetti Allah watch.

– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495

The only thing Ndigbo will use to remember President Buhari when he leaves office is to hand over power to Ndigbo in 2023 general election. He loves Ndigbo not by mouth but action.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 20, 2021.

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