By Chimaobi Nwaiwu, NNEWI
Onitsha, the commercial city and Nnewi, the industrial town of Anambra State, on Thursday, observed total compliance with the sit-at-home directive of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, over President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Imo State.
As early as 6.30a.m. on Thursday, the major roads and street in Onitsha were deserted, even by residents who made early morning movements to churches and physical exercises venues.
The leadership of markets in Onitsha, like Onitsha Main Market, Ochanja Central Market and a major food stuff market, the Ose Okwodu Market, on Wednesday evening, had announced to the traders that there will be no commercial activities in the markets today.
In fact, in Ose Okwodu Market on Wednesday evening, Vanguard witnessed a woman with a local gong announcing to the traders that there will be no marketing activities in the food market, just as she told them that there will not be any prayer activity.
However, when Vanguard sought to know their reason for the announcement, the woman replied: “It is an order from above and Onitsha Main Market had made their own announcement sine 3p.m. today (Wednesday).”
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Banking and other commercial activities also obeyed the order, including business and artisans shops on the roads and streets, leaving everywhere in the city dry.
“Federal and state governments establishments, including hospital workers, stayed away from office also in observance of the sit-at-home.
Also in Nnewi, it was the same situation as markets, including the popular Nkwo Nnewi Market, banks road and street business outfits were shut for business.
‘It’s protest against FG, South-East governors’
Roads in the industrial town were deserted by traders and resident, who stayed at home to observed the pro- Biafra group directive.
Vanguard took time to get reactions of some residents of Onitsha and Nnewi, on whether they welcome the sit-at-home, particularly as it is coming three days after Monday’s sit-at-home.
An Onitsha-based businessman and small scale industrialist, Chief Johnson Okolo, told Vanguard that the people of South-East now see the sit-at-home, as not only IPOB affairs but a protest against injustice by the Federal Government to Ndigbo and misrule by South-East governors.
“We have seen that the leaders are not doing well, we have seen failure of leadership; that is exactly what is happening in South-East.
“So we have seen that now, we have one governor for the South-East, not five now; only one governor, and people obey him when he speaks and even when he did not speak and his followers speak on his behalf.
“That leader is Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. And the way people will approve his directive shows that they are not happy with the way things are run in the country by the leaders.
“The people have shown that all of us will not carry arms; that there are other way of civil disobedience and passive resistance of unfavourable, unfair and lopsided government.
“All of us cannot carry arms at the same time. It will turn into war. So we decided to sit-at-home from to register our grievances.
“But when the people’s peaceful protest goes into deaf ears, then the last option is always war, as it was in 1967.”
Asked if the constant sit-at-home will not affect the people and their businesses negatively, Chief Okolo said, “Already the economy of South-East, Ndigbo have been destroyed in all ramifications before IPOB came up with Monday weekly sit-at-home, which they suspended and yet people willingly keep observing it to protest Nnamdi Kanu extra-judicial rendition and subsequent detention.
“South-East has already been eliminated in the affairs of Nigerian, and put in trouble by Federal government before now.
“I have over six thousand agric palm trees I planted in my palm plantation in Enugu State. I am telling you that I cannot access that place any longer because Fulani herdsmen have taken over there and destroyed them.
“The ones their cows could not destroy were those that have grown beyond their height.
“Import any goods and go to the Wharf to clear it, write any Igbo name and you with see what will happen.
“So our economy is already down; we are showing our grievances to the already collapsed South-East economy. IPOB’s directive is only an opportunity people are looking for to express their anger.
“And that is why if you try to come out any Monday, you will see anger, raw anger, the youths will visit you with.
“You see them moving round with motorcycle, they want to kill if they see you outside; they are not asking for money, but for people to use the exercise to tell government the truth.
“People said you are maltreating them and instead of you to prove them otherwise, you move out soldiers and guns.
“Can you kill everybody at a time? So the issue is treat people well and make them feel belonged and all these crisis will stop.”