By Ezeigwe Daniel….
In the classical Igbo cosmological orientation, there is a crisp maxim that ‘if sleep gets pleasant, snoring becomes inevitable.’
That witty remark comes very handy in describing what the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has enjoyed in its annual May 30th sit-at-home oder, to commemorate the 1967 – 1970 Nigeria Civil War, and to reminisce on, and pray for the souls of over one million Biafrans who allegedly died in the war.
Last year, prior to the same event, there was tension as to how the government and its security agencies would react to the actions of the group dubbed ‘violent,’ and disbeliefs over absolute compliance and observance.
Outstandingly, the compliant level, especially in the South Eastern part of the country was as outright as the solemnity with which people ardoned their spirits on the day. South Eastern Nigeria known for its commercialism, with predominant markets and business metropolises, stood at a wistful halt, businesses closed, markets deserted and the historic metallic vibes of the popular Onitsha, Nnewi, Ogbete and Ariara markets were enveloped in thoughtful quietude and phobic serenity.
It was an impressive show; one that opinion experts and the conscious-minded Igbos alike confessed had been discarded in the trashcan of perennial abandonment in the region’s thorny aspirations for self-search and emancipation.
This year’s sit-at-home declaration by the IPOB came more or less like a surprise package. The nasty events of September, 2017, when the Nigeria army, practically operating on a direct order, invaded the home of the leader of the secessionist group, allegedly killing and wounding many members of the group, in what was said to be a ‘direct response to violent resistance’ by the unarmed group.
After that gruesome incident, the leader of the IPOB has not been seen or heard from, with unconfirmed reports saying he was killed in the raid, other rumours say he was discretely arrested by the army, and yet there are rumours he was sneaked out before the attack, following a tip-off and had escaped through the Cameroonian border.
The sense of lost and appreciation that came in the aftermath of this horror show had left concerned observers and Biafra faithfuls thinking the headway to hope was lost for good. The uncertainty that trailed the IPOB leader’s disappearance whetted all anxieties, and the fact that some people, especially political office holders, who are of the Igbo race, had started patronizing deniability in order to have the president’s recommended handshake and camera smiles, made subsequent events barely foreseen.
However, odds were defied again, and the sobriety with which the event was marked this year reflects an ideological pattern that binds a people in common belief and unanimous thoughts. The Igbo doctrine of collective living, which seemed to have been egoistically interred in the deepest grave of internal segregation and avariciousness, was revived, as the sun slowly outshone the dark east, casting silhouettes of desolation on streets and markets known for their annoyingly over busy schedules.
Amnesty International’s reports have indicted the Nigeria army of killing more than 150 members of IPOB, with video evidence of the massacre in a church premises at Nkpor in Anambra State, South Eastern Nigeria, from 29 to 30th of May 2016, as the group was preparing for that year’s Biafra Remembrance Day, as well as at Ngwa High School on the 8th of February, in a prayer service.
On September 20th, 2017, a Federal High Court in Abuja granted the Nigerian Federal Government an interim injunction to proscribe the activities of the group. These tons of ugly events have only looked to make the group’s march dauntless.
This year’s sit-at-home success is a clear communication of victory, however, there is the genuine need for the IPOB to channel its resurging voices toward a collective thought without hurting the very heart of reason and national peace.
In this long tortuous hurdles for freedom, the IPOB must always reach for, in the pockets of common sense, Martin Luther King Jnr.’s harpy remark that ‘human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable……Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’
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