We believe that Monday’s sit-at-home exercise was conceived as a peaceful protest. The non-violent reaction arose because of a perceived wrong, which is the arrest and detention of political activist and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, including the failure or refusal of the Department of State Security (DSS) to produce him in court when needed. At that point, the organizers had many sympathizers.
People agreed with IPOB and heeded the call to stay at home on Monday to prove a point to the Federal Government. Even those who argued about ‘food and hunger’ got little attention because people felt there is no gain without pain. IPOB’s enemies and detractors became understandably jealous but only for a while.
Now, the table is turned. The whole idea of insisting the ‘sit at home’ is now getting people upset because of pockets of violence erupting ‘here and there’ every Monday on account of so-called violation of the ‘rule’. Property has been destroyed, cars burned and people injured, even killed because of it.
The notion of a “peaceful protest” has been defeated. People are angry and asking the question, “Why punish the very people you have supposedly come to save? Why destroy their livelihood? ” It makes no sense to put more burdens on the struggling people of the South-East or Biafra whose lives you are trying to rebuild. Even ardent supporters of the sit -at -home are appalled by the opposing voices coming from IPOB, pointing to a lack of unity.
Earlier, the IPOB leadership had issued a release calling off Monday’s sit-at-home. According to them, they had resolved not to put more hardship on “Biafrans”. Yet, some of those who ventured out on the day were attacked in certain places. We dare to ask – who calls the shots in IPOB?
IPOB has blamed ‘sabotage’ for the ugly situation. But that is not good enough. They should go further to fish out the bad eggs among them if they want to retain people’s respect and sympathy. Too many cooks will definitely spoil the broth.
Right now people are obeying the sit-at-home order more out of fear rather than support or solidarity. The last straw was the disruption of WAEC examinations at a school in Nkume in Njaba LGA, worsened by the cold-blooded murder of an Anglican priest, Rev. Emeka Merenu at Ihitteukwa in Orsu LGA. Although IPOB has condemned the action and opted to rebuild the school and replace damaged properties will they also wake up the dead?
The IPOB must speak with one voice if they want to be taken seriously. They must take measures to ensure that the group is not hijacked by hoodlums. As for Government, bullying people not to sit at home is neither here nor there. People want to feel safe. They want to know and see that Government is not paying lip service to the security of lives and property.