As this exercise is the greatest of all civil disobedience applied in the struggle for Biafra actualization and restoration, the success has opened a new dimension to the Biafran struggle, a new dimension anchored on non-violence.
DATELINE South East: FROM Awka to Umuahia; Abakaliki to Enugu, and Owerri, it was eerie in the cities and the country side. Banks were closed. Markets and shops were shut. Streets were deserted. Vehicular movement was scanty. Tricycles (Keke) were idle. A few burn fires were quickly put off as youths played street soccer. Teams of security agencies moved in packs. Meanwhile, those who dared or opted to move on the seemingly desolate roads, did so unmolested. Many others gathered in the front of their homes pondering about the day, Tuesday, May 30, 2017; the 50th anniversary of Biafra.
The sit-at-home order, from the hierarchy of the twin leaders of the organizations agitating for the Biafran cause – the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) – was the high point of the celebration to mark the golden jubilee anniversary. Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, hitherto leader of MASSOB, but now leader of the Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), reportedly was against the sit-at-home order and initiative.
The Leader of MASSOB, Comrade Uchenna Madu, in a midday statement termed the order “a huge success.” It was the most effective in recent years, perhaps the huge build up and dialogue in various quarters helped remind the populace in the South East.
But for Madu, “the huge success achieved on the sit at home exercise is marvelous and glorious because Almighty God, divinely approved our program of commemorating the golden jubilee celebration of the declaration of Biafra by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.”
In Enugu, the political capital of the South East, as in other state capitals in the South East, security was beefed up. Security operatives including the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps and the vigilante groups patrolled the streets of Onitsha and Nnewi. Police helicopters hovered in Enugu, keeping surveillance even as commercial activities were paralyzed on the ground, where also siren blaring Police cars patrolled the streets. But there was no sign of any trouble.
In the ever bustling Abakpa Nike suburb of Enugu, commercial vehicles were off the road, leaving many early risers stranded. Secondary school students who went to schools returned because even the teachers were absent.
It was the same for many civil servants, especially those who relied on public transportation who could not find transport to their offices. The state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Virgilus Nwobodo showed little understanding of the situation as he noted that it was no excuse to remain at home as no worker was given directive to stay at home. Although some banks operated in the early hours, they didn’t attend to customers.
But it was different for some intra state travellers. At the Peace Park in Abakpa, passengers strolled in to travel outside the Enugu metropolis but the buses took longer time to load and depart the terminus.
Although the market gates were open, the traders were not in the market like in the Ogbete Main market, which was deserted. A trader said: “We don’t want to open shops. We just came around to know what will happen. We will go home. We are remembering Biafra heroes that is why we decided not to open shops.”
Elsewhere, the few daring commercial buses and tricycle operators quietly did brisk business by hiking fares.
Madu, had noted that, “the honour and pride goes to the people of Biafra. The success achieved today is not a selfish pride for the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB or the Comrade Uchenna Madu led-MASSOB or any other group; it is an honour for the people of Biafra, it is an honour for the gallant and eloquent soldiers of Biafra and civilians who bravely laid down their lives for the establishment of the Republic of Biafra. It is an honour for Biafran school children, an honour to commercial cyclists, tri-cyclists, commercial vehicle operators, traders and others.
“It is an honour to the corporate firms that complied with the sit at home exercise. The huge success is an express evidence that the coming Biafra referendum shall be a walk over. The success is also a direct confirmation that light and darkness can never walk together.
“The huge success has further differentiated the acceptability and unacceptability of the Ralph Uwazuruike – led Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), IPOB, and MASSOB.
“The huge success marks the end of the already failing image of Uwazuruike and his BIM who opposed the calls for the sit at home exercise.
“The huge success is an indication to the international communities that Biafrans are ever willing to stay on their own. MASSOB is not against the Nigeria existence, Biafra nation can as well exist as a sister nation with Nigeria like any other African country.
“As this exercise is the greatest of all civil disobedience applied in the struggle for Biafra actualization and restoration, the success has opened a new dimension to the Biafran struggle, a new dimension anchored on non-violence.
“I, as the leader of MASSOB pledge my consistent and unshakable loyalty to the people of Biafra with a vow that any day I go back on Biafra actualization and restoration struggle, I shall die.”
He also thanked all Biafrans for their sacrifice in marking the remembrance of Biafran fallen heroes and the massacre of Ndigbo from 1966 till date, adding that, “we assure you that the sacrifice you made on 30 May 2017 is not in vain. You have proven that you need Biafra and nothing more.”
“Our gratitude goes to all the market leaders in Biafran land – Onitsha main market, Ogbete main market Enugu, the markets in Aba, Owerri, Nsukka, Nnewi, Port Harcourt, etc. We commend the keke drivers, the okada riders, bus drivers, schools and captain of industries who complied with the order. What you did on 30 May 2017 is not for MASSOB or IPOB but for the entire Biafrans and Biafrans have proved that Uwazuruike and his BIM cannot stop the real Biafran agitators.
“we assure you that the sacrifice you made on 30 May 2017 is not in vain. You have proven that you need Biafra and nothing more.”
MASSOB thanked countries like the United States of America (USA), France, Spain, and Italy for their support for self-determination, and respect for human rights.
Meanwhile, Igbo lawyers, under the umbrella of Otu Oka-Iwu hailed the compliance level of the sit at home order and the peaceful celebration of the 50th anniversary of declaration of Biafra. In a statement, the president of the group, Chief Chuks Ikokwu noted that there was no breach of the peace during the remembrance and commended the IPOB and MASSOB for ensuring that the anniversary was free of violence.
The group also commended the security agencies for ensuring that there was no bloodbath and “respecting the right of the people to free speech and peaceful assembly.” The group called on the government to immediately release all detained members of IPOB and MASSOB or charge them to court.
In Awka, banks, schools and government departments were closed just as many civil servants did not report for duty. At the state secretariat, few civil servants reported for work at the government house and state secretariat and left as soon as they arrived. In Onitsha, the ever bustling confluence Upper Iweka motor park, was like a ghost town. Meanwhile, the leadership of IPOB commended most of the transport companies and business establishments for their support and hailed the compliance of the sit at home order, but frowned at those they called saboteurs.
The Media and Publicity secretary, Emma Powerful in a statement stated: “We observed the total compliance for those in diaspora, they marched on the streets of Taiwan, Chad, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, Russia, Ukraine, Angola, Congo DRC, Mozambique, Luxembourg, Brazil, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, Canada, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, France.
“Nevertheless, all the markets and businesses in Biafra land was under lock and key, we congratulate you all.”