Sit-at-home has become a way Igbo people honour and celebrate their heroes who fought for their freedom during the Biafran war. It is often declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). IPOB once again declared indefinite sit-at-home every Monday starting from August 9, not to celebrate but to pressure the Buhari Administration till Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is released from detention.
Kanu had been advocating for the restoration of the Republic of Biafra. He was re-arrested and brought back to Nigeria in June “to continue facing his trial” according to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. Kanu’s trial had been adjourned till October.
Since 2015, there have been struggles by the IPOB to pressure the Buhari Administration to grant referendums that will offer Igbo people the opportunity of choosing to remain in Nigeria or form a new nation. Nigeria has been engaging in systemic marginalization against the Igbo people.
Restoration of Biafra has been an issue of contention among Igbo people. As the IPOB and other groups desire to achieve a separate nation, the method of achieving it is also in contention. The political leaders tend towards a restructured Nigeria where the region would be able to determine their fate, revenue resources and utilization and also realization of the president of Nigeria from the South-east region. The common man wants food on his table as many share in the quest for achieving Biafra. To them, Biafra will be a place of roses.
Within the three years of existence of the Republic of Biafra, the young country worked well despite being shelled from all angles. It was within this period that Africa’s greatest technology advancement was born. Biafra died with such a feat from the black world. It is with enthusiasm and reminiscence of the feat attained by the Igbo heroes that makes the hunger to have a separate nation grow day by day.
The hope for a new and better Biafra has pitched the South-east leaders against many Igbo people. The leaders are viewed as not doing enough to protect and advance Igbo interests. This led to the struggle for leadership (The struggle for leadership and control in Igbo land) in Igbo land. The South-east leaders have constantly lost out when it comes to the feelings of the people thereby handing over to Kanu majority of the peoples’ loyalty. Whenever he and IPOB order a sit at home, people do comply.
The sit-at-home is a civil protest to pressure the government into action. But that should be done not to contravene the rights of other Igbo people who may not want to comply. Using force and destruction to achieve such should not be termed total compliance. To get a people to completely comply is to get them to accept by heart and soul of the said order but not to comply based on fear. Fear of what the new nation would be. Should the kind of authoritarianism being displayed now going to be what to be expected? It is better to get people’s compliance through actions of conviction and not to coerce them through threats, brutality and autocracy.
The fight for self-determination is assumed to benefit the Igbo people. Six people were reported killed and several properties were reported vandalised but to whose interest would there be such deaths and destruction? Those who support such brutality wouldn’t go into the ring but would prefer to be spectators watching and clapping hands while Igbo continue to lose lives and livelihood.
The declared sit-at-home did not consider the young students who are taking their examination. Mathematics examinations took place all over Nigeria and those of the South-east were affected. The order was not in consideration of these young people who are the future of Igbo people. What kind of future should they look up to if they were deprived of the chance towards their education? Is the IPOB determining that the future of these youths should not focus on education? When they come up with threats for noncompliance of their order, how will these youths view these activities? Is this for them?
In the current economic situation in Nigeria, people who feed on day by day income would go to bed hungry knowing that their hunger is caused by forcing them to sit at home. Is this for them?
It is known that to achieve an end, one or a group of people must be ready to sacrifice for the realization of their pursuit. Sacrifice secures its sacred meaning when done wholeheartedly than to have the feeling of being forced into it. No one would like to cut off his nose in order to spite his face, likewise; no one sets his home on fire to show how brave he is.
Sit-at-home is a good tool for political pressure and it will be highly celebrated if people are not forced into observing it with threats and destruction. No cause is achieved by hurting the same people for whom you want to save. Human beings react negatively to coercion. Igbo people in particular react negatively to coercion and subjugation.