Barely hours to the much-anticipated gubernatorial election in Anambra State, the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some prominent personalities in the state and South East have pleaded with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to rethink the seven-day sit-at-home directive of the group.
Some of the personalities that had lent their voices to this call are candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Valentine Ozigbo and a notable militant leader in the South South region, Chief Asari Dokubo.
Recall that last week, the IPOB vowed to observe a seven-day lockdown in the South East as from November 5 in support of its detained leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, unless he is released by the Federal Government on or before November 4.
Noting that Anambra is the economic live wire of the South East, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo said any harm to the state would “create untold disastrous chain reactions and catastrophe for the Igbo.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze urged the Chairman, South-East Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi, to convene an emergency meeting of Igbo stakeholders and Youth Leaders for the purpose of addressing the legitimacy crisis in the zone especially as it relates to Anambra State election and the political solution for the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
The Ohanaeze’s statement read, “The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide pleads with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to reconsider the 7 days’ Sit at Home order in the South-East of Nigeria from November 5 to November 11.
“This is to enable the governorship election for Anambra State scheduled for November 6 to hold.
“It is important to note that Anambra State is the economic live wire of the South East with an impressive steady growth trajectory.
“For instance, Anambra State showcases the best rural road network and rural community development in the South East if not in the entire Nigeria.
“Anambra is home to the greatest number of small, medium and large scale industries in the South East.
“Most recently, Anambra has added a cargo airport to its resource base.
“Above all, Onitsha is the largest market in West Africa. The implication of the above illustration is that Anambra State is the melting pot of Igbo traders and artisans.
“It stands to reason that Anambra is the big Iroko tree that provides a shade for most Igbos. Apart from the shade, it also hosts the numerous birds that perch on the branches.
“Therefore, any harm to the Iroko tree will create untold disastrous chain reactions and catastrophe for the Igbo.
“While pleading with the IPOB to rescind the Lock Down plan, Ohanaeze Ndigbo requests the Chairman, South East Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi to convene an emergency meeting of Igbo stake holders and the Youth Leaders for the purpose of addressing the legitimacy crisis in the South East, especially as it relates to Anambra State election and the political solution for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“It is important to point out that one of the causes of the crisis of confidence in the South-East is because of the yawning gap between the Youths and indeed the masses, on one side and the political leaders on the other.
“Therefore, the leadership of the various youth groups should not be excluded in any meeting aimed at resolving the current crises in Igbo Land. In other words, the Youths want to be fully convinced of our commitment to their plight.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo reiterates its solidarity with any group that protests the Igbo alienation in the project Nigeria with a caution for restraint, maturity and wisdom.
“It is based on the foregoing that Ohanaeze adopts the philosophy of dialogue, negotiations in coalition with other concerned groups that comprise the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum led by Chief E K Clark.
“It is also lamentable that the burial ceremony for the Afara Ukwu-born Chief Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi Ironsi, slated for November 5 in Umuahia, Abia State may be drastically affected by the prevailing Igbo social climate.
“General JTU Aguiyi Ironsi represents so many things to the Igbo and we owe his soul a duty.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willy Obiano to convene a joint meeting of the Anambra State chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chief Emeka Udodeme and the Association of Town Union (ASATU) led by Barr. Titus Akpudo with a view to activating meetings in all the 181 towns of Anambra State.
“The traditional rulers, Archbishops, Bishops and the Clergy are also requested to brace up in their roles as the cultural and spiritual leaders of society.
“Ambassador Professor George Obiozor, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide is very perturbed that the serenity, tranquility and aggressive entrepreneurship for which the Igbo are known are gradually yielding to the unknown dark forces.
“He is more perturbed when the Anambra ordeal is juxtaposed with the calibre of personages for which the State is known. Some of them include Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Dr. Alex. Ekwueme, Professor Chinua Achebe, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Professor Chike Obi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Professor Dora Akunyili, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, Professor Keneth Dike, Peter Obi, Professor ABC Nwosu, Engr. Arthur Eze, Dr. Chris Ngige, Igwe Alfred Achebe, etc and numerous young and old billionaires.
“In many respects, Anambra is the engine that propels the Igbo enterprise. As elders we should not fold our arms while the goat dies in the tether.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is of the conviction that the disruption of the Anambra State election and the adverse consequences are a major setback to the Igbo civilization.”
Also, foremost militant leader, Chief Asari Dokubo, has urged IPOB and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, not to deprive the state’s people the right to elect a new governor.
Spokesman for the ‘De Facto Customary Government of Biafra’, Mr. Uche Mefor, confirmed this to the militant leader in a statement released, on Wednesday.
Dokubo also requested that the organisation stop the region’s sit-at-home edict so that people can go about their daily lives. Any violent enforcement of the sit-at-home activity, according to the former militant leader, is criminal and inhumane.
The statement reads, “In the light of the complex developments, hydra-headed security challenges and other sundry issues adversely affecting the indigenous civilian populations lumped up together against their will in Nigeria, the De Facto Customary.
“The government of Biafra hereby declares as follows; the hydra-headed government believes absolutely in the sanctity of human life – the protection of lives in the Biafran territory – and therefore condemns in no uncertain terms the ongoing wanton destruction of lives and properties in Biafraland by both state and non-state actors irrespective of their motives.
“That the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra extols the democratic ethos for which Biafrans are known and as such declares support for the people of Biafra to exercise their democratic rights to vote and be voted for in Biafraland in the current and future elections.
“That in line with this pronouncement, the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra affirms that elections in Anambra State and elsewhere in Biafraland must hold by the extant laws; that any boycott of the Anambra elections and others elsewhere remains fruitless, counterproductive and would be incapable of invalidating the electoral process because a winner must emerge eventually by the circumstances strongly urged to go out and vote for the preferred candidates of their choices.
“That the continued violent campaign for the boycott of elections and other ancillary unethical conducts which are inimical to the advancement of the Biafran cause are subsequently frowned at and as such must be discouraged forthwith.
“That the proponents of this self-annihilating strategy must be reminded that in reality, the best way to be in control of political power is by engaging and by going through the democratic process itself or they will otherwise and in effect be aiding and abating the same Fulani-controlled Nigerian state to all the more heavily militarise Biafraland, impose a state of emergency, kill more Biafrans, ultimately rig the elections and fraudulently install their stooges.”
“Just as the group condemned alleged violence against the people of the Southeast region, that the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra further condemns without any equivocation the associated systematic subject on of Biafrans to torture and the targeted assassination of Biafrans on Biafran soil. These are heinous conducts against the laws of the land and prohibited as atrocious crimes by the international community.”
Chief Dokubo also urged the immediate departure of security forces stationed in the South East, warning that any use of violence against Ndigbo would be met with fierce opposition.
His statement continued, “That the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra calls on the Nigerian government to withdraw her forces from the Biafran territory forthwith and to arrest and bring to justice all her security personnel implicated in the commission of crimes against humanity, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Biafraland.
“That the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra opposes and deplores in its entirety any torture or killings of Biafrans by Biafrans on Biafran soil. Henceforth, anybody or group of people embarking on this criminality remain the enemy of the people.
“That the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra welcomes any civil disobedience measures taken by Biafrans in response or protest to the violations of their fundamental human rights this criminality which advances the ever legitimate Biafran cause. In this regard and with particular reference, any sit-at-home in line with the above-stated objective which is voluntary is welcome.
“However, any violent enforcement of such exercise leading to the forcible restriction of movements, destruction of businesses, above-stated in Biafraland must be challenged. We further reiterate that violent enforcement of any said sit-at-home exercise is criminal conduct, and anybody indulging in those despicable conducts remains a criminal.
“Finally, that the De Facto Customary Government of Biafra reaffirms and reasserts that Biafra is our heritage and would do everything humanly possible to defend, and her people. Long live the people of Biafra. Long live the State of Biafra.”
Also, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, has also appealed the IPOB to reconsider its ‘no election’ stand, for peace to reign.
Ozigbo, who was represented by his running mate, Mrs. Azuka Enemo, at a press conference in Awka, on Wednesday agreed that the South East was visibly marginalised in present political dispensation.
The governorship hopeful argued that the agitation for a just and equitable society should be informed by the collective desire of the people to have a system that works for them.
“What we have now is simply not working for our people, and we have to carefully consider the strategies we adopt in pressing home our demands.
“The interests of our people are better served by allowing the people to decide what kind of leadership they want in Anambra in 2022 and beyond. If we don’t allow our people to make that decision (election), the danger is that those who may not have the best interest of Anambra at heart will sit in their cosy offices and take this all-important decision for us,” he said.
The PDP candidate further said that with the level of insecurity, disenchantment, breakdown of trust in public institutions, near collapse of public infrastructure, among other things, Anambra, at this time, desperately needs a leader who will place the collective good of the people ahead of any other considerations.
His running mate, on her part, added: “Ozigbo has long maintained that the solution to the issues affecting the South East, including the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, calls for sincere dialogue.
“We jointly offer the best possible platform and grand strategy for rejuvenating Anambra and setting her on the part of sustainable development.”