IPOB sit-at-home: Ohanaeze, residents bemoan losses as fresh protest looms

How Monday’s protest caused my husband’s stroke, by housewife
Biafra: We’ve not compromised, say Nnamdi Kanu’s family

Thousands of residents, particularly traders in the five Southeast states remained in distress yesterday, five days after the first of the ‘Ghost Mondays’ declared by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to press for the release of its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Many are still counting their losses-some human, some financial, some other assets- they incurred when IPOB sympathisers unleashed fury on those who decided to go about their businesses on day one of the sit-at-home protest.

A housewife told yesterday of how her husband suffered stroke on the fateful day because he could not be taken to the hospital for immediate treatment after falling ill unexpectedly.

The group is gearing up for the next round of protest on Monday.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo warned yesterday that the protest was misplaced.

The Chidi Ibeh-led group said continuation of ‘Ghost Monday’, rather than have a serious influence on President Muhammadu Buhari to release Kanu, can only lead to more self-inflicted catastrophes and destruction that will undermine the future of millions of Igbo pupils writing NECO examinations and worsen the untold hardships and agonies that Ndigbo are going through.

Secretary General of the group, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said: “This ‘Ghost Monday’ must discontinue to pave way for more diplomatic and political strategies to see that Nnamdi Kanu is released. Only local diplomacy intertwined with international coercion is required for Kanu’s release, not more absurd and futile sit at home. ”

According to him, “there were jubilations in some sections of the country, especially from the adversaries of Ndigbo as well as the dictatorial tyrants that had capitalised on these missteps to prepare Igboland as theatres for blood to flow ceaselessly and endless destruction of private and public properties to continue unabated.

“This gives rise to losses on all fronts for Igbo. Our losses took the place of our gains in the last sit-at-home. There must be a modification of strategy to avoid the rivalry and counter orders noticed within the ranks of exponents of sit-at-home and the image laundering that followed after.”

The group added: “Since the exponents of sit-at-home are resident in Europe and North America, they should allow Igbo in Nigeria to have a breath of fresh air as the economic crisis associated with COVID-19 has dealt hard blows on the parents of pupils writing NECO exams and those who lost their lives during the observation of sit-at-home.”

It begged “all and sundry to desist from actions capable of doing things more difficult to our collective survival and inflicting more calamities on the people who barely have two square meals on a daily basis.”

An Enugu housewife, Mrs Uche Njeze, is one of those who will not forget the first ‘Ghost Monday’ in a hurry after her printer husband developed stroke because of lack of immediate medical treatment for him on the fateful day.

Njeze said her husband unexpectedly fell ill on Monday afternoon but could not be taken to the hospital because of the no-movement order issued by IPOB.

Narrating the situation to The Nation, she said: “At about 2pm, I noticed that my husband who was sitting on a sofa had an unusual countenance. His lips were twisted and half of his body was shaking uncontrollably.

“I have very young children and I tried everything I could to make him calm without success. One of our neighbours suggested we should visit a hospital, but every effort I made to get a keke (tricycle) was to no avail, and we don’t have a car. Again, all our neighbours who have cars refused to put their vehicles on the road for fear of being attacked by hoodlums.

“People started bringing olive oil and other kinds of oil to rub on him. Eventually, the shaking stopped. But he has not spoken since.

“When we got to this hospital on Tuesday, the doctors started blaming me for not bringing him early enough.

“We found that my husband had, unfortunately, suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke which resulted in serious brain swelling. He had to undergo craniotomy surgery (removal of bone flap to allow the brain to swell outwards instead of compressing the other part of the brain).

“They said it is not something the hospital can handle and they referred us to the UNTH. I’m counting on God to help my husband. He is the breadwinner of our family with young children. If IPOB had not ordered sit-at-home, my husband would probably not have been in this state by now.”

A seller of ‘okpa’, a popular local delicacy at Obiagu, Enugu, Lady Adaora Ugwu, said she lost over N30,000 owing to her inability to sell already prepared ‘okpa’ on that day.

She said: “I got this money last week from our ‘esusu’. Before now, I was preparing N10,000 worth of okpa. But when I got that bulk money, I used part of it to put this place in order and increased the quantity of okpa.

“I didn’t know that the sit-at-home would be observed, because even my daughter had NECO exam on that day. That was why I prepared for the market.

“I live at Emene, and when I came out to come to town, I didn’t see any vehicle. Many others who wanted to go about their businesses were also at the bus stop, but there was no vehicle.

“It was then that it dawned on me that I had wasted my money, N30,000. As I was throwing them away the next day, I was weeping. I don’t know when I will get over this loss and pay back the money.”

The Director General, Nsukka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr. Dan Ochi, said small scale enterprises must have lost over N4.7 billion on the day alone.

On a personal note, Ochi said his organisation lost N21 million to the lockdown.

According to him, “IPOB is getting it wrong by ordering people to sit at home. We know what they are agitating for.

“The way they are going about it, those of us who depend on daily income are heavily affected. We are losing heavily.

“I will give you an example. We in my own organisation are into commercial farming. That Monday alone, we lost N21 million because the tractor we hired from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nigeria Nsukka, (UNN) was doing a job for us and it broke down over the weekend.

“On Monday, we were supposed to finish that job and return the tractor otherwise we would be billed. On that Monday, we were supposed to buy the parts, but we couldn’t find them because there was no movement. That’s why we could not deliver that job on that Monday and that’s how we lost that money.

“We lost over N4.7 billion that Monday as a state and if we continue like this, we will lose more every Monday. Our productivity was zero on that day especially those of us that earn our living daily”.

An economist and director, University of Nigeria Business School, Prof. Josaphat Onwumere

Said: “Southeast lost several billions to that lockdown. It wasn’t the best. That day, productivity was zero.

“Many man hours were lost. Because of no movement, goods were not transported from one place to another, not only within Southeast, but from Southeast to other parts of the country and vice versa.

“So, at the end of the day economically, it affected not only the economy of the Southeast but the entire country negatively because billions of naira was lost in the exercise.

“This really affects the country’s economic development, because even to take people to hospitals was not possible; schools were closed.

“Education was affected, health was affected and transportation and manufacturing were affected. Banking and individual productivity were affected and money running into several billions of naira was lost.

“You can imagine the people that lost their lives during the sit-at-home order; imagine the properties destroyed. Many resources were rendered idle that very day”.

Prof. Onwumere warned that the Southeast as a region cannot cope with another lockdown like that.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said: “We are sad that we lost yet other lives to the process. Violence is not to be celebrated in any way at all.

“We have always urged them (IPOB) to tread on the side of caution because we believe that dialogue and deliberations are better ways of achieving results,” he told our correspondent in a phone interview.

Ogbonnia said shutting down the socio-economic activities of the region was not the best way for IPOB to show support for Kanu.

He said: “Ohanaeze’s position is that it should not continue. It is not necessary destroying the socio-economic activities of the Southeast. There are other ways of expressing support to Nnamdi Kanu short of shutting down the socio-economic activities of the South-East.

“We are aware that people from Cameroon, people from other parts of Nigeria are in the Southeast for commercial purposes. This disruption is not good for the development of the Southeast; it is adding hardship to the people.

“Even that day (Monday), many people didn’t take the NECO examination because of the sit-at-home order. We have appealed to IPOB to reconsider its position and rather have a collective deliberation and come to a consensus on how to further press its demands short of disrupting economic activities.”

Ebonyi rice business grounded

A rice trader in Abakaliki, James Alejke, said hundreds of traders who had converged on Ebonyi State from Cameroun, Ghana and Benin Republic for the usual Monday rice business had a day to forget on Monday.

His words: “We lost millions. Monday is usually one of the busiest days for business in the market. Traders from Southwest and even neighbouring countries like Cameroun, Ghana and Benin Republic always come in on Sunday to make their purchases on Monday.

“They buy in bulk, which is where we make a lot of money but because of the protest they decided to go to other states like Benue making us lose a lot of money”

A driver for one of the major transport companies said his company lost a lot of money.

“I can tell you that my company and others lost a lot of money. Monday is always busy as people are always travelling back to their bases after the weekend.”

“But we couldn’t load even when we were at the park and open because passengers were afraid to come out,” said the driver who pleaded not to be named.

At least three persons were killed in the state with many others injured.

All 163 markets in Anambra shut

All the 163 markets in Anambra State were shut during the period, making traders to lose much money.

But a food vendor in Awka, Mrs Nancy Maduagwuna, told The Nation that she didn’t suffer any form of loss.

She expressed support for the protest and said: “We’re ready to continue unless Kanu is released.”

A transporter, 45-year-old Mr Sunday Okechukwu, told The Nation that the sit-at-home call by IPOB was pure madness

“It was a huge loss to me and many others on the day. Nnamdi Kanu has become a thorn in our flesh in the Southeast. Is that how they are going to rule us if eventually they succeed?” he queried

“This stay-at-home is a big punishment to many families, and government allowing it to succeed means they are not in charge. How can an individual be stronger than a whole government?”

My bank surcharged me for defaulting to pay back my loan -Businessman

A businessman in Abia State, who gave his name as Gilbert, told The Nation that apart from his inability to earn money from his business on the day, he was made to pay more interest for the loan he had taken from his bank.

He said: “I should have paid the money on Friday. Why I didn’t repay the loan was because a customer that promised to bring the money for me brought it late, and by the time I received it, I didn’t have any other option than to wait until Monday.

Read Also: IPOB’s sit-at-home turns bloody in Southeast
“So, when we learnt that Nnamdi Kanu’s brother had cancelled the sit-at-home, I was very happy. I called my marketer and told him that I would be coming to pay the money first thing Monday morning.

“But we heard a counter directive that the sit-at-home was still on. I didn’t give up hope. On Monday, I came out with the money. But on getting to the bank, everywhere was under lock and key.

“Honestly, I was very sad because I know that the bank is going to bill me for not paying the loan on that same day. I don’t know if this every Monday sit-at-home is going to be sustained with the economic negative impact it is having on our businesses.”

Oforegbu Linda, who runs a restaurant at Okwpele in Onuimo LGA, Imo State, said business was not encouraging.

“We came out on that day but we did not make much money because people were afraid to come out, nobody wants to die. So many of our customers did not come out. Despite the protest, we still sold to those that came out, only we did not make high sales,” she said.

Speaking, the police spokesman in Imo, CSP, Michael Abattam, said that the security agencies were not overwhelmed as there was enough patrol on major roads.

“Banks were opened, people came out businesses were operating, we were everywhere patrolling,” he said.

He attributed the problem to fear and doubts. “People were doubtful and unnecessarily afraid to come out. That was what happened; not that security agencies were overwhelmed. Our men were on ground. But we have identified some grey areas and all those places will be covered in future.

Why we called for suspension of protest, by Nnamdi Kanu’s family

The family of Nnamdi Kanu has explained that its call for the suspension of the protest was to allow students write their ongoing National Examination Council (NECO) examination, contrary to insinuations in some quarters that they may have been compromised by government.

Prince Emmanuel Kanu, in a statement for the family, said their statement was not intended to undermine IPOB.

He said: “We the family of the detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, have noted with concern mixed reactions that have trailed the counter order by the family against the Monday, August 9 planned sit-at-home order initially directed by IPOB.

“It must be understood that the action of the family was informed by the compelling need not to jeopardise the academic future of thousands of Biafran children sitting for the ongoing National Examination Council, NECO.

“Contrary to misconceptions in some quarters, the action of the family to counter the sit-at-home was not as a result of compromise or monetary inducement by the government.

“It was also not to usurp the powers of IPOB or for any ulterior motive contrary to speculations.

“It’s unthinkable that the Kanu family, which has sacrificed almost everything including our parents, in the cause of this struggle would ever contemplate sabotaging the same struggle for which our first son is now being illegally detained.”

Source The Nation.

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