By Biodun Busari
The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum has warned those planning to boycott general elections in the Southeastern region of Nigeria to desist from the scheme, urging that sit-at-home exercise cannot achieve the sovereign state of Biafra.
According to the Igbo elders, those advocating the sit-at-home are the enemies of the Igbo people, and they advised youths to troop out to the polls and vote for their preferred candidates on Saturday.
Among those who made the call were the ex-chair of the Police Service Commission, Chief Simeon Okeke; a former Anambra governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Prof Charles Nwekeaku, during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
The forum noted that the election is the best platform for the South-East to produce Nigeria’s president since independence in 1960.
Okeke said, “Elections in the South-East must be held,” while urging the people of the South-East to go out en masse on February 25 to vote for the candidates of their choice. “Those calling for a sit-in at home will be regarded as enemies of the Igbo nation.
“To those who are demanding a separate country called Biafra, don’t forget that your fathers and grandfathers demanded and fought to have that same Biafra roughly 52 years ago. Millions died in action and out of sheer starvation. Some of us here participated in that bloody war.
“What makes you believe that you can win that war this time through extreme activism? That war was fought with guns, armoured tanks, etc. We must think strategically in determining how to structure the future for our people, children, and grandchildren.”
The elders appealed to residents of the region to learn from history and similar circumstances that have happened around the world.
He said further, “You could argue that your demand for separate existence is a basic human right. But the quest for a separate existence is not restricted to Nigeria. In Britain, for instance, Scotland, which is part of that country, is seeking a separate existence. So is the case in Spain, where Barcelona is demanding the same. None of them is demanding it by killing and maiming their fellow countrymen and women, by imposing a needless sit-at-home order.
“They do it by participating actively in their country’s general elections, where they sponsor candidates who will be their voice in their parliament, where they argue their case and push it via a referendum to decide which way to go.
“Why not borrow a leaf from them and pursue your demand in a civilised manner? You can never get Biafra through violence, slaughtering yourselves, or sitting at home when parents should be at work and children should be in school.
“South-East residents have been coerced into complying with a sit-at-home order. This irregularity, which has also been extended to Election Day, when people are looking forward to using their vote to speak their minds, must not be allowed to happen.
“It is for this reason that the combined voices of elders, youths, men, women, and our retired military and paramilitary officers have come out to state unequivocally and reject this situation in its entirety.”
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