Sit-at-home has been successfully deployed to celebrate the Heroes’ Day and a successful political statement when the people responded to president Buhari in the language they thought best when the empty streets welcomed the president to Imo state. No matter how successful it has been, the sit-at-home has become a double-edged sword.
Armed with the moral support of the proponents of the sit-at-home protest which the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) started, to protest the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kalu who has been in detention since July. The proponents of the sit-at-home seem not seeing that this form of protest as much as it keeps the people away from the trigger-happy security personnel, is also grounding the entire region. Some people argue that the entire region was grounded during the war, but the South-east is not presently at war, rather it is warming up to be at war with itself.
The economic activities of the South-east is being grounded
The economic crunch is tightening and affecting everyone and the sit-at-home is making it harder for the Igbo people and businesses operating in the South-east region to thrive. Income is affected. Movement of goods and services is affected. To ensure full compliance, the proponents of the order are employing fear by reportedly forcing and attacking those who may choose to exercise their right to free movement to comply.
A region that boasts of bravery is being made to fall on their knees, this time, not by a powerful adversary but internal forces thriving on sentiments and affinity.
Not everyone is in support of the sit-at-home
People are continuously growing weary of the continued protest but are afraid to disobey as tales of those attacked for daring to go about their normal day-to-day activities are told. As I have written earlier, this exercise should be done wholeheartedly, rather than by coercion. As Ndigbo reacts negatively to coercion, what the group sets out to achieve may not be achieved. The problem lies with the leadership of the region whose duty is to protect life and property, but having let Igbo people down for so long, has lost out in leading the people. The fear is not only about defying the order but also for being abandoned to fate by the government should there be any security challenges.
The people who are speaking out against the sit-at-home and the brutality that follows are even being attacked and called names. It is worrisome that this activism may not be sending the right message to the federal government but instead, is marginalizing the people even when the federal government is thriving on Igbo marginalization. Isn’t this a double injury?
Setting the think home movement back
I am a proponent of the think home movement and this sit-at-home protest is affecting the over the years efforts of propagating, convincing Igbo men and women and youths to see to the viability of the economy of South-east by investing homewards. Already, the region is suffering from the not suitable economic environment orchestrated by the leaders who have not made serious attempts on bringing back the people who take investments to other states as their only source of succour. The think home is gaining fruit but this incessant but seeming careless strategy of economic strangulation through the weekly sit-at-home is destroying this campaign.
The economy of the South-east is not rooted in the region.
People emigrated a lot during the kidnapping era. The economy of the region can be affected by a policy. Those who fled the region for economic sojourn have set up businesses and contribute to the revenue of their host places. This move is affecting the revenue due for the development of the region. Every right thinking Igbo person should be disturbed on what is going on and push to stop the bleeding of the region through the protest.
There seems no exit route
Believing that the continued sit-at-home will bring the Buhari administration to release Kanu from detention may be utopian. What if Buhari didn’t hearken to the protest, will the sit-at-home become an endless exercise? If so, to whose favour?
If at the end of this exercise, the group fails to force the hands of the federal government, it amounts to outright defeat which will not only affect the standing of the group but also the standing of the entire South-east in the country.
Many look back to the situations leading to the Biafra war in regrets of what the war cost Igbo people. That was justified because war was brought on Igbo people but this is a self-inflicted wound which is setting the region back in many unthinkable ways.
The theatre is directed by unknown people
The IPOB has stated that they have suspended the earlier declared every Monday sit-at-home. The latest narrative is that IPOB has no hand in what is happening in the South-east. The sit-at-home is being directed by the unknown people. Who are the unknown people beating the drums that the entire region is dancing to? The same unknown people attacked the security of the region that the federal government had to channel its security energy to the region. People cheered and clapped when these unknown people decimated the region, they are clapping and cheering as these unknown people are taking the entire region hostage in the name of sit-at-home.
There is greater need to resist this uncharitable assault on the Igbo and redirect the energy of the Igbo people towards the cause of fighting the systemic injustice meted on the region.
If the IPOB has no hand in the continued sit-at-home, they should in forceful terms condemn the ongoing hostage of the Igbo people and quit from offering the enemies of the Igbo opportunities for these assaults and assist the governors to take out these hoodlums perpetrating these acts of terror from the region.