Anambra decides: Fear of the unknown, businesses and the road to Government House

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

 

As the clock gradually ticks away towards the Anambra gubernatorial elections slated for the 6th of October, 2021, the heart beats of several Nigerians have become faster. This is due to the renewed killings and threats by pro and anti-Biafra groups.

 

Recall that the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) had, in response to the arrest of their leader Nnamdi Kanu, threatened to oppose elections in the South East until he was released.

 

True to their words, the group allegedly launched series of attacks at government formations especially the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) offices burning down materials, sending shivers down the spine of officials.

 

This development coupled with the already enforced sit-at-home orders made the clouds above the South –Eastern states of Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia literarily thicker and full of uncertainties. Experts have over the period argued that the growing insecurity would drastically affect the business atmosphere of the region which had over the years been vibrant and promising.

 

The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State Of Biafra, MASSOB, in a counter move, assured residents that the election must hold in Anambra State. The group encouraged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to proceed with plans ahead without distraction, stressing that the state would be disenfranchised and a leader imposed on them if the polls didn’t hold.

 

Well, away from the drama and superiority tussle that has played out over the period, the tension has reached the peak with business owners already swallowing bitter pills.

 

In a telephone call to Alfred Ike, a spare parts dealer in Onitsha, who also runs an outlet at the Ladipo Market in Lagos, the fears were confirmed.

Ike said: “I have been opening my shop at the Onitsha main market with fear. Boys pretending to be unknown gunmen have harassed us severally and made us part with sums of money. On one occasion while I was going to Owerri, I was stopped at Rojenny and told to show my identity cards.

“While I was bringing out my identity cards, my National Identity card popped out. One of them slapped me and asked me what I was doing with ‘Zoo’ identity card. He discharged every other person and the entire vehicle left leaving me in the hot sun with my wallet having my ATM cards.

“I spent almost thirty minutes begging before I was later released and warned never to flaunt it anywhere in the East if I want to live,” Ike concluded.

 

Experts have decried the worsening situation as many livelihoods have been cut off by miscreants who maim, kidnap and even kill travellers with impunity along the routes within the South East.

 

They have argued that the conformity to the sit at home order of IPOB had made many indigenes stay back at their bases without travelling home to cast their votes.

Nkemdilim Uko is a women leader from Nnewi who operates a bar in Lagos. She said the usual August meeting attended by women form the region recorded a poor turnout as the area was totally unsafe.

“We usually travel home in large numbers for the meeting and when returning, some of us, who are traders and businesswomen go into the bush markets to buy bush meat, oil and other condiments for sales in Lagos.

‘’This year, we had only a few travel home with so many staying back giving the insecurity of the roads as excuse.

“I was forced to defy the fear of the roads as I had a sick mother I needed to attend to at home otherwise the news I have heard over the passing weeks have been scary,” Uko concluded with a shrug of her shoulders.

 

KAFTAN Post also had an encounter with 26-year-old Ebere, who hawks ‘abacha’ (a popular igbo delicacy made of cassava flakes) around Victoria Island in Lagos. Ebere, who recently returned from Abakaliki, said she spent almost four hours in the bush when she heard gunshots some kilometres to Enugu. She said she and other passengers ran from the vehicles they had boarded when they heard gunshots and observed vehicles reversing. By the time the dust had settled, the bus had left with her bag of goods she was bringing for her business.

 

These ordeals by business owners shuttling between the southeast and other parts of the country have been worsened as the election approaches. A picture posted by a facebook user showed that shops around Enugu are currently under lock and the streets deserted. This is despite IPOB, calling off the one-week sit-at-home order.

This order, which came two days to the gubernatorial elections slated for 6th November, 2021, had the group stating reasons for the cancelation.

 

The group noted, through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, that the intervention of their elders, esteemed traditional institutions/rulers and religious leaders led to the cancellation of the order. Powerful however asked Anambra indigenes to exercise their civic right by coming out en masse to vote for their candidate.

 

The statement read: “Following the genuine  intervention of our elders, esteemed traditional Institutions/Rulers and Religious Leaders, and after a due consideration of the positive impacts of their engagement, and sequel to the fact that Our elders have spoken in our terms, the Leadership of IPOB ably lead by MAZI NNAMDI Kanu hereby and immediately CALL OFF THE ONE WEEK SIT AT HOME earlier declared to commence tomorrow, November 5 to November 10, 2021”.

 

The question however remains on how long it will take for peace in the entire region to return to normalcy and how much of revenue the business owners would have been lost and would lose to the situation?

 

Until then, the election is less than 24 hours away and only time will tell on the outcomes in the days to come.

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