Every Nigerian showed unease when the separatist group – the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – led by the still-missing leader, Nnamdi Kanu insisted on a referendum instead of an election in Anambra.
The gloom was such that many voters’ cards were abandoned. Not because of the apathy of Nigerians towards “casting votes” but, because they felt there would have been bloodshed if they had come out. What has led I.P.O.B. to aggressively pursue this aim of wanting to separate from the Nigerian nation, starting from a referendum, is the belief that secession would guarantee Igbo prosperity.
The group claims it can bring back the lost ‘glory’ of the Igbo race in a free country called Biafra built on supposed Igbo values and equal citizenship – where they regularly claim that marginalisation is the order of the day in present-day Nigeria. Also, they stand on the disposition that the structure of the Nigerian nation has literally made it impossible for the Igbo people to succeed, citing instances of fear, hatred and suppression of Igbo industry particularly by “People of the North”. IPOB believes that as long as Nigeria remains one single nation, the Igbo race would be imperceptibly sidelined, considering other parts of the country would continue to band against the Igbo people in an enclosure they refer to as the zoo.
However, talking about marginalisation here might act as a distraction to the bone of contention. So, back to the matter.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the schedule of activities for the 2017 Anambra election and, the separatist group elaborated the need for the people of the Anambra to boycott the election, so the government see the seriousness of intense calls for a referendum.
But one thing led to another.
The Nigerian Military launched “Operation Python Dance II” in the South East.
In the course of the exercise, there was a clash between the members and supporters of IPOB, and eventually, after back and forth allegations, the group was proscribed – a decision supported by the South East governors. After the proscription that didn’t come across as a proscription, the pro-Biafra group continued its activities, or at least, they kept releasing statements especially asking for the return of Mr Kanu.
There was, therefore, a sustained belief that IPOB remained a force in the South East even in the absence of a supposed saviour.
The election eventually held in Anambra and reports have it that the people of the state came out en masse – at least relatively – to vote in their candidate.
Look at the numbers.
APGA: Willie Obiano – 234, 072
APC: Tony Nwoye – 98, 752
PDP: Obaze Oseloka – 70, 293
UPP: Osita Chidoka – 7,903
In all, the election recorded a 22 percent voter turnout, which is low but, on closer analysis, the turnout was not a result of the ‘election boycott’ that IPOB ordered; it was due to voter apathy.
As already outlined above, the group was proscribed by the Federal Government and, when ‘Other’ Nigerians would have expected adverse reactions, protests, sit-outs by supporters of the group or by other pro-Biafra groups, everyone looked away and moved on. It showed the group was working on its own and not on the mandate of the people of the South East – the Igbo race – who were supposedly being fought for.
By this, nothing else shows that the struggle of IPOB does not have support from the people, who are ultimate in any such secessionist agitations.
Nnamdi Kanu was always quick to reference the numbers of citizens that IPOB rallies and demonstrations draw, but the one time IPOB actually needs its adherents to show force of strength, they fail miserably. That, perhaps. says more about the current state of IPOB’s influence in Anambra and the much larger South-East, than any press statement.
Omoleye Omoruyi is a poet and a novelist, invariably concerned about happenings in the world. He is the News Blogger for YNaija. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram