By Nick Chibunna
The Federal Government has been advised to dialogue with groups associated with the agitation for Biafra, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) the Bilie Human Rights Foundation and numerous others.
This followed increased agitations by the groups for the actualization of Biafra. Recently, they issued a sit-at-home order to Igbo, to commemorate the declaration of Biafra on May 30, 1967 by the late Gen. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as well as honour those who died for the Biafran cause.
Businesses were shut down Tuesday in the entire South, indicating that the sentiments for self-determination were strong among the people.
Among those calling for the dialogue were religious and political leaders, captains of industry and former presidents.
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Okigwe South, Rt. Rev. David Onuoha, said that dialogue would enable the government to understand why, 47 years after the end of the civil war, the idea and clamour for Biafra seem to be gaining fresh momentum.
In his presidential address, at the Third Session of the Eighth Synod of the Diocese held at the St. Stephen’s Church Umuduruegwelle, Ehime Mbano LGA of Imo State, the Bishop also said that dialogue is a better approach to addressing the obvious injustice marginalization, suffering and hardship the South East geopolitical zone has been perpetually subjected to since after the war.
While condemning the brutality meted out to the groups during their demonstrations, he maintained that violence was not the solution to the problem, noting that all over the world force has no place in winning ideological wars.
He applauded the judiciary for granting bail to the leader of the IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, stressing that the judiciary has again confirmed it was the last hope of the common man.
Also former President Olusegun Obasanjo said in Abuja that the Federal Government should dialogue with the Biafran agitators.
Speaking at the “Biafra, 50 years after” forum held at Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja, rtd Gen. Obasanjo, who was at the fore front in the Nigerian civil war, insisted that “we should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship” and appealed to the agitators not the leave Nigeria.
Since the present clamour for Biafra, agitators have been observing 30 May of every year as freedom day, calling on their compatriots to observe the day sitting at home.
Last Tuesday’s sit-at-home order was the most effective, unlike in the past when skeletal services were observed. Christian Voice check revealed that major markets, public and private institutions, including schools and health care centres in the 27 council Areas of the state were deserted with shops under lock and key, and traders stayed away, and teachers waited endlessly for their pupils and students.
In Owerri, the capital city of Imo State, streets were deserted as few motorists and Keke operators pranced around, shouting,” we are Biafrans and ready to assist our fellow Biafrans”.
Except few skeletal automated teller machine (ATM) service, most banks were closed.
At Eke Ukwu Market Owerri, this reporter learnt that all stalls were shut and traders who wished to open their shops for business were prevented from doing so.
Impeccable source told Christian Voice that the arrival of the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, at the Eke Ukwu Market, and his pleading with traders to allow those who wished to open for business do so fell on deaf ears as to traders maintained their ground to enforce the sit-at-home order.
A young woman carrying a four-month-old baby expressed her disappointment that her new born baby that was seriously ill could not access medical attention, as the door of the private hospital where the baby was being treated was shut, adding that she was caught unawares.
Others who went to the banks were disappointed.
On why this year’s sit-at-home order was very effective, a chieftain of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Hon. Sir. David Iwuagwu, said that it was a warning signal to the ruling class that a people born free and equal could no longer be taken for a ride.
He said that it was also solidarity to the uncommon bravery exhibited by the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, adding that for a people to obey the voice of an individual leaves much to be desired.
On whether the scenario is a sign of imminent breakup, Dr. Iwuagwu said that Biafran agitators are not canvassing for the breakup of Nigeria but peaceful separation free of violence .
Also speaking, an Anglican Cleric, Ven. Clell and Nzeh, said that the Biafran issue is a concluded matter, adding that Biafra has come to stay.
He said that the present scenario is the beginning of the end, Ven. Nzeh who corroborated Dr. Iwuagwu’s conviction on the statesmanship of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, said that the republic of Biafra is already a reality, but the time, season, date and year of actualization, only God knows.
Christian Voice check also revealed that this year’s Biafra Day was peaceful as few people who came out moved about undisturbed. However, eagle-eyed security operations were spotted on strategic places to counter any breach of the law.
Meanwhile, former Imo Information and Culture Commissioner, Engr. Obinna Nshirim, has warned that people have no right to force others to comply to the sit-at-home order.
Speaking on the matter, he said those who closed shops did it for the fear of attack.