On Thursday 30th, the sit-at home order ostensibly to observe the supposed ‘Biafra Day’ was pulled off by the organisers.
According to reports, there were varied levels of compliance within the five South-Eastern states namely Anambra, Abia,Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States for the observation of the sit-at-home order given by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
There was a near-complete lockdown of the entire South-East geo-political zone yesterday, following the sit-at-home order at the instance of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which has described the success as a sign that it was in total control of the zone.
Across the South-East and South-South, the group recorded total compliance in some major cities and its environs; partial but substantial compliance in some and failure in parts of Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo States. Lets take a quick look at the compliance level:
According to a Vanguard report, IPOB recorded total compliance in Onitsha and Nnewi in the early hours of Thursday 30th, as business activities were shut. The situation was, however, different in the Anambra State capital as people moved about their businesses and the offices and commercial houses were open without molestation. Apart from police patrol vans that were stationed in strategic positions in and around Awka, there was nothing to show that there was any order directing people to sit at home. In Onitsha, all the markets, financial institutions, transport companies, schools and government institutions were closed. There was partial compliance in Oba, Nnewi, Obosi, Nkpor, Ogidi, Ihiala and other surrounding towns and villages.
Also, the fact that yesterday was Feast of Ascension which Catholics usually observe as a day of obligation, made many people to also abstain from work and businesses as all schools and offices run by Catholics were not open. There was peaceful atmosphere in the state as security agencies, including the Army, Navy, Police Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were at different junctions to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order. The usual gridlock in most parts of Onitsha was totally absent and there was no member of IPOB sited in any part of the state.
The popular Onitsha Main Market, Marine Market, Ose Okwodu Market and other street markets, as well as Nkwo Nnewi Market were not opened for business. Shops, including the popular Sir Emeka Ofor and other plazas known for selling and repairing telephones and its accessories were all closed for business.
In Fegge area of Onitsha, roads were deserted while shops in buildings were all under lock and key. The popular Bridgehead Market that had over 25 markets under it, including the Onitsha Patent Medicine Market, were all closed. The Ochanja Central Market and all the markets also in Fegge area of Onitsha were closed for business as youths engaged in all kinds of games including football, draft and other games.
In Nnewi, the compliance level was 100 percent unlike in the past, as all the markets, financial institutions, road-side business activities and shops, including artisans markets, transport companies totally complied with the IPOB directive. Basking in the euphoria of the apparent success of the order, IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said:
“There is no lingering doubt that IPOB is in complete charge of the entire Biafraland “The total compliance we have witnessed in today’s celebration has dispelled the claims that Biafrans cannot forge a common front to pursue anything that is important to them. “We are happy with the level of high compliance with the sit-at-home directive issued by the leadership of our great movement.
“The early morning broadcast from our leader in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, at 6a.m. local time in Biafra set the tone for the day.
“Indications from all quarters point to total compliance, including Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. “We expected our people to comply, but never did we anticipate this near perfect compliance. “The respect and humility Biafrans demonstrated today is an indication that Biafra restoration is the singular most important issue in the lives of our people.
“We encourage our people to remain peaceful, steadfast and not allow themselves to be intimidated into disrespecting our war heroes, heroines and faithful who lost their lives in the course of Biafra agitation. “Today (yesterday) is a truly historic day, our dead soldiers, fathers and mothers; sisters and brothers; friends and well wishers who also died in the Biafra agitation, will be proud of us.”
What triggered the recent surge of agitation for Biafran independence?
The agitation for the Biafra sovereign state is something that has been in the air for quite a while now. It appears the immediate trigger has been the surfacing of the new actor and leader in the person of Namdi Kanu, the self accalimed leader and director of Radio Biafra, an unlicsenced radio station broadcasting from the UK to drive home the agitation for the nation’s independence.
It will be recalled that initially the agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra was championed by the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which was formed in 1999 and led by Ralph Uwazurike.
The group pledged to be non-violent but, over time, its members, alleging provocation, clashed with police repeatedly, resulting in several members killed. (In May 2008, the group alleged security operatives had killed an implausible 2,020 members since 1999).
Uwazuruike claimed he is MASSOB’s sole sponsor but the group also sells “Biafran passports” to members and fundraises from some diaspora Ibo organisations. In May 2013, then President Goodluck Jonathan listed the movement (along with the radical Islamist Boko Haram and the militant Yoruba group, the O’odua People’s Congress) as an “extremist group” threatening Nigeria’s security. In recent years, MASSOB has fractured and, on 30 November 2015, a major faction tried to expel Uwazuruike, alleging he had compromised the secessionist cause and pocketed some 100 million naira (about $500,000) of the group’s funds.
In September 2010, a splinter group formed the Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), later renamed as the Biafran Zionist Front (BZF). It claimed international links and even an “alliance” with Israel. On 5 November 2012, BZF leader Benjamin Igwe Onwuka “re-declared the Republic of Biafra” at a rally in Enugu; he and about 100 members were promptly arrested and charged with treason, but granted bail. On 8 March 2014, Onwuka and BZF members tried to seize an Enugu-state-owned radio station and broadcast another Biafra declaration: they were arrested by police and are now on trial.
Should Other Tribes Be Worried
Nigeria apparently has always been divided along ethnic lines, as long as anyone can remember, Nigerians have always responded to national issues along their ethnic lines and as such, there has always been a group agitating for each of the three major ethnic groups in the country. The Odua Peoples Congress which has once threatened to declare an Odua Peoples Republic should the Biafrans have their way and the Arewa Consultative Forum from the North.
In truth the entity called Nigeria itself was a ‘forceful’ unwanted union between very distinct ethnic entities each with its own cultural and ideological way of life and so it appears these agitations really have their roots dating back to the amalgamation period.
It appears other ethnic groups are only just looking on to see how the Biafra agitators will end and should there be another break away, they also will only be too glad to declare their own republic which might be the very end of the nation called Nigeria.