By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
THE Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, may have rescinded its call on the people of the South East to boycott this year’s general elections, but its effect will definitely affect today’s voting strength.
The call for election boycott was started by IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in 2015 and between 2017 and 2018 the leadership of almost every ethnic nationality in Nigeria, including, Afenifere, Ohaneze, PANDEF and even Ijaw youths considered the call for the poll boycott. The other ethnic nationalities later backed out and only IPOB continued with the campaign for no election.
As Nigerians troop out for the presidential and national assembly election today, many Igbo, particularly the youths, who had associated themselves with IPOB activities may not exercise their franchise because they did not register and therefore do not have the voters cards to enable them vote for candidates of their choice.
In fact, many people have argued that but for IPOB’s boycott order, the voting strength of the South East geopolitical zone would have far surpassed its eight million registered voters, which is the least among the six geopolitical zones.
In Awka, many people accused Kanu of deceiving them, adding that for him to discourage them from registering by telling the people that there would be no election in Biafra, only for him to turn around at the eleventh hour to say the people could vote, showed that the IPOB leader was confused.
Mr. Stanley Nwokike, a resident in Awka said it was unfortunate that he did not have a voter’s card because he was made to believe that there would be no election in this part of the country in 2019.
He said: “I have always had sympathy for IPOB and, as a member of the organization; I obey all its instructions. That was why when the IPOB leader ordered that we should not participate in the registration exercise, many of us obeyed him.
“With his consistent announcement that there would be no election unless there was a referendum, we thought we had won the battle from the Biafra angle and we were happy. But when, 24 hours to the election he made a u-turn and said election could now take place in the entire Biafra land and that our people were free to vote, many of us felt that we have been used.
“Now he is telling the whole world that he signed an agreement with some people, but I do not want to believe that. Now a decision had been taken in the South East to go a particular direction during the election and we will not be part of it. This is too bad.”
Mr. Collins Nwafor, said he is envious of those who brandish their voters’ cards, adding that the call for the boycott of elections was the reason he did not register. “From the propaganda by IPOB, we did not know that we would still be in Nigeria today. We have discovered that our people have played into the hands of some unpatriotic people who do not mean well for our people,” Nwafor said.
According to him, many Igbo people are angry that they will not have opportunity to vote in this year’s election because of Nnmadi Kanu’s directive, noting that his decision to ask people to vote would make no meaning because the damage had already been done.
He said that if Kanu claimed that he had signed an agreement with some people on the Biafra issue, he ought to have given all the details, adding that the people’s eyes have opened and that it would be difficult for the people of the South East to continue to believe him henceforth.