By Barr. Ejeh Josh
Since the advent of the sit-at-home order by a group of non state actors—the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)—on August 9, 2021 in the Southeast zone of Nigeria, innocent people from the five states that constitute the zone had been brutally murdered in the most callous manner. It’s a case of brother killing brother. A case of family in disarray. A case of ingesting poison out of resentment and expecting your enemies to die. Both public facilities and private property have been destroyed by the group, and life under the prevailing atmosphere could be rightly described in the words of the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, as sliding into the state of nature with its brutality, nasty and shortness.
The group had draconically said, while declaring the order, following the extra-ordinary rendition of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB, from Kenya by the Federal Government of Nigeria, that every Monday, which is arguably the most important and fundamental business and transaction day of the week, would be set aside as non-work-day or what it called, sit-at-home day until the release of Mazi Kanu by the federal government.
Indeed, this order did not come without its attendant dire consequences on the people, their economy and general way of life. It is already the 91st sit-at-home Mondays—approximately 22 months since August 9, 2021. Nothing positive has come out of it other than unimaginable wanton slosh of blood, maiming, destruction of the economy, exodus of businesses from the zone and near collapse of public confidence and trust. Southeast economy is gradually grounding to the state of comatose. People are groaning in agony. Education is being raped and the human institution is violently defied by blood tasty monsters.
The sit-at-home impasse, to the Igbo man on the street, has become a torn on his flesh. It’s a crown of tears, blood and sorrow inflicted on them by those supposedly parading as their messiah. Things are no longer at ease. Their sources of livelihood have suffered devastating blow. The Igbo man lives in fear from all sides and corners of his abodes because of the trail of blood from the sit-at-home.
The IPOB and its leader, Mazi Kanu, over the past one year, had cancelled whatever remains of the sit-at-home order after taking a critical review of its implication on the people. Mazi Kanu, despite being on the gulag of the Department of State Security (DSS), warned against any enforcement of the order, even stressing that enforcers of such dastardly directive be treated as criminal elements and infiltrators sabotaging the people of the East.
To reiterate the call by Mazi Kanu that had distanced himself from the ruinous order, Emma Powerful, the spokesperson of the IPOB had written that: “We the global movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by the great and indefatigable leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu wish to remind Biafrans in Biafra Land, friends of Biafra, and lovers of Biafra freedom across the world that Monday sit-at-home remains suspended.
“We are concerned that in some areas, especially rural areas, our people continue to observe Monday sit-at-home due to threats from criminal enforcers linking themselves to the IPOB movement. We have said it numerous times that the Monday sit-at-home is infamous and can not be allowed to continue.
“Mondays in Biafra Land has become a day for the Agent Provocateurs and the Nigeria Security Agencies to kill and destroy our land just because they want to blackmail IPOB.”
Despite this obvious statement putting an end to sit-at-home order, some elements who thrive in confusion, chaos and anarchy, and have made themselves enemies of the people and sworn adversaries of Mazi Kanu are parading themselves as enforcers of the said order leaving behind trails of blood and sorrow.
It’s time to end this primitive act that has set our people almost a century backwards. It’s time for the people to rise up and defend themselves, their collective will and the resilient Igbo spirit in them. It is time to heed to Mazi Kanu’s instruction, ignore these agents of darkness and desperation orchestrated by their selfish ends.
Their motives are clear from the onset of the struggle. They want to destroy the people of Southeast, and provoke the government into further keeping Mazi Kanu behind the bar. They are not representing the interest of the Igbo people, neither are they fighting for Mazi Kanu.
Nobody would doubt the ruthless consequences of the continuous sit-at-home on our psychic and economy. According to a report from the International Centre for Investigative Report (ICIR), over $12.215 billion or N5.375 trillion has been lost to sit-at-home since September 2021. This chilling figure was further corroborated by a study conducted by SBM Intelligence for DevEast Foundation Ltd/Gte putting the ongoing loss in the Southeast at about 30% of the gross domestic product of the zone’s economy. Transporters, one of the indispensable livewires of the economy in southeast is losing over N10 billion for each sit-at-home day. The Igbo people are known for trading as their primary occupation. In that sub-sector, the Southeast loses between N900 billion to N4 trillion. This means that every loss to the Southeast economy is a gain to the economy of other zones.
Enugu used to be the home of Nollywood, with an influx of tourists and students from other parts of Nigeria craving to study there. Entertainment industry was a big business in Enugu. The relaxation, hospitality, leisure and pleasure from the state led to it being tagged, “042”. Today, the sit-at-home syndrome has forced the entertainment industry, including Nollywood and hospitality out of the state. It’s time to end this craze and allow the glorious days of the “042” to return. How about our popularly “Roadblock Show?” It can only come back when we say no to sit-at-home.
To ensure that this self-affliction is brought to an end, Enugu State Governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, after taking a critical assessment of the impact of the notorious sit-at-home on the lives, education, economy, infrastructure, etcetera of the people, had to take a bold step that many have been hailing as a relief to the Igbo nation. Mbah’s decision to end the sit-at-home inanity is in the best interest of everyone living in the state. We cannot just continue this way and expect any meaningful development.
It’s time for the people to come out en masse, urge their brothers, siblings, colleagues, friends, partners, acquaintances to end the senseless hostilities against their soil and against their people. Anybody declaring, endorsing or enforcing sit-at-home order is an enemy of Ndi Igbo. It’s foolhardy to keep doing the same thing time and again and expect different answers. It’s time to change the narrative and strategy by embracing the call for dialogue extended by the governor. It’s time to drop your guns and embrace peace. It’s time to reason from the point of humanity. At the risk of repeating myself, sit-at-home has been disastrous to Enugu economy, to Southeast economy, to Ndi Igbo in general, depriving them of livelihood, turning the state into a blood field and harvest of sorrow.
While Governor Mbah was putting an end to the menace of sit-at-home, his approach should be commended. Rather than being confrontational against the belligerents, he was compromising, calling for truce. His highlights are as follows; an urgent call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to consider the release of Nnamdi Kanu to hasten the national healing process; a call for dialogue with those with genuine grievances for a roundtable discussion meant at bringing lasting peace; and a call for an end to sit-at-home. These are bold steps. He could have talked tough and deployed security forces to neutralize these elements enforcing sit-at-home because he has the power to do that. He, however, chose to toe a path of pacifism. This is a window of opportunity for the protagonists of sit-at-home to rethink their steps before it’s too late. They should recall it’s now “business unusual!”
As the people of Enugu eagerly await the tickling in of Mbah’s electoral promises through his disruptive innovation, it’s important to emphasize that these promises could only be achieved in a peaceful atmosphere. Enugu under the present administration is poised to run a private-driven economy through attraction of investors. The implication is that, with an atmosphere of peace and re-assurance, jobs will be created, youths will be empowered, industrialisation can be achieved, businesses will boom, and poverty can be eradicated without stress. However, with the current impasse of sit-at-home negating security, no investors will want to sink its money in an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and insecurity. This is why everyone in the state must come out, support the government by taking back their once peaceful state from hoodlums masquerading as freedom fighters. You don’t fight for freedom only to turn your people into animals to be slaughtered. Ndi Enugu must stand to their feet and resist criminals and agents provocateurs being sponsored by few selfish anti-Igbo individuals to destroy the zone.
It’s time for us to take our Enugu state back from enforcers of sit-at-home. It’s time to even commend Mbah for the bold step of ensuring adequate security measures for the protection of lives and property. Driving through the state, one could see the presence of security personnel in all the locations and spots of entry. One could notice fighters jets flying around for intelligence gathering just to make sure our people could go about their normal businesses. We must come out in our numbers on Monday; from transporters to marketers, bankers, artisans, hospitals, malls, and what ever you are to show victory over the darkness of sit-at-home. Ignore any fake news or propaganda purportedly discrediting the cancellation of the sit-at-home. The fake news is coming from those living the life of waste and debauchery there in Finland with their family members. Ndi Enugu, it’s time to show that we are the owners of the state. Anarchy must not be allowed to fester in our beautiful Coal City State.