IPOB Sit-at-home Continues: South-east Traders, Others Lament Huge Losses

Residents in states in the South-East are groaning over the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra which they said continues to cripple socio-economic activities in the region.

IPOB Sit-at-home Continues: South-east Traders, Others Lament Huge Losses 4

In Ebonyi State, like in other states in the South-East, residents have continued to obey the order despite the group’s announcement of its suspension on August 9, 2021. The IPOB also noted that the order would be observed only on the days its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is to appear in court. The Federal Government is prosecuting Kanu for offences bordering on treasonable felony. He is IPOB’s leader and advocating Igbo Nation.

This is even in the face of last Sunday’s threat by the state governor, David Umahi, to sack civil servants who failed to report to work on Mondays. But the governor’s statement didn’t appear to move the civil servants who refused to go to work. Traders were also not left out as they refused to open their shops. The situation has adversely affected socioeconomic activities in the state and other states in the region.

On Monday, one of our correspondents, who monitored the situation in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, observed the closure of banks, markets, shops and filling stations in the state. Saturday PUNCH visited one of the commercial banks on Afikpo Road, Abakaliki, on Monday to interact with the guards there. One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he was instructed not to open the gate for anybody, including the bank’s employees.

He said, “I don’t know who you are but you can’t be asking me questions because I was instructed not to open the gate for any customer. If you want to withdraw money, use the ATM machine and leave. Other banks didn’t open for business and why should we open? It’s about the sit-at-home and many people are aware that it is still ongoing even after it was believed to have been suspended.”

At another bank on Ogoja Road, Abakaliki, it was discovered that the gate of the bank was under lock and key. Though a few customers converged on the gate for transactions, nobody attended to them. But an unidentified female who claimed to be one of the bank’s employees, said, “There is no point opening today (Monday), when everyone is aware that the safety of everyone is not guaranteed. Other banks did not open today and why should we open? Again, is our safety guaranteed if we open? Who will help us if we are attacked for opening for business?’’

Also, it was observed that many of the banks were not open for business. On Monday, major transport firms in the state did not open for business. The gates of Peace Mass Transit, Eastern Mass Transit, Romchi Mass Transit, Rivers Transport Company, among others, were shut.

Reacting to the development, a trader, Mrs Olanma Mercy, who sells foodstuffs, said the situation was affecting business activities in the state. According to her, if nothing is done to urgently address it, some people may be forced to go into crime.

Mercy said, “The sit-at-home order has its benefits and demerits. One, it was an opportunity for people to express their love for Nnamdi Kanu said to be fighting for Igbo Nation. But it’s worrisome for people to continue to observe the order even when IPOB said it had suspended it.

“The state economy was picking up from the damage done to it by COVID-19 pandemic. But all of a sudden, the sit-at-home came. We are losing customers and businesses are declining. Monday is the first working day of the week. People set goals and hopefully look forward to achieving them. But currently, our hopes are being dashed every Monday. It is terrible. Something needs to be done urgently too.”

On his part, a 35-year-old businessman and social commentator, Chika Nwogba, said the situation had destabilised economic activities in the state.

Advising that IPOB should use another approach to express their solidarity for Kanu in the interest of the poor, Nwogba urged government at all levels and stakeholders to look into the situation to forestall breakdown of law and order in the South-East.

He added, “The situation in Abakaliki, the state capital on Mondays is usually terrible. As a matter of fact, economic activities are being affected negatively to the point that one finds it almost hard to buy food and other essential commodities needed for use on a daily basis.

“I deal in computer accessories and I know what I normally make on Mondays. But this has stopped suddenly. Customers are being diverted from the zone to other regions of the country. We are indeed losing a lot on Mondays as a people.

Imo residents groan under order

The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, noted that the sit-at-home had no impact on the residents of the state who he said didn’t obey it. The governor made the statement on August 25 while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. But for the fourth Monday running on August 30, residents of Owerri, the Imo State capital, observed the weekly order.

In the state, commercial activities are always grounded every Monday. Banks, markets, shopping malls, eateries and shops remain locked every Monday since August 9. Schools, mechanic workshops, recreational centres and churches were under lock and key since the announcement of the weekly sit-at-home protest by the secessionists.

Though IPOB had since August 9 suspended the weekly protest, residents of the state continue to obey the order. Every Monday, the streets of Owerri are like a graveyard. The story is the same in Okigwe and Orlu towns. Small areas such as Ahiara Junction, Anara market Roundabout, Umuaka market and Amaraku are always deserted on Mondays.

From Douglas to Wethedral to Ikenegbu, Imo State University junction, Item streets, wood market at Aba Road and Alaba International market in Owerri, the story is the same.

The ever-busy Bank Road in Owerri experiences the same development. All the banks closes every Monday with few residents who come for transactions getting stranded.

Imo State University, Owerri, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo, Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, are also deserted on Mondays too.

Saturday PUNCH observed that only fuel stations and pharmacy shops open for businesses on Mondays but suffer low patronages.

The popular Okigwe- Owerri Road, Imo State University, Owerri, Junction, the ever busy government House Road about, Bank and Weatheral Roads are also usually deserted on Mondays.

The Imo State government and the state police command continue to assure the residents to go about their lawful business on Mondays. The police noted that it had the capacity to protect them.

A popular newspaper seller at the Government Roundabout in Owerri, Isinwa Favour, otherwise called Shege, told one of our correspondents that he hardly sells on Mondays since the order started.

Isinwa said, “We are used to it. There are no sales on Mondays these days. I have now made up my mind that every Monday there is no business. I only come out on Mondays to sightsee. Nobody comes out not to talk of buying papers.’’

Another business owner in Owerri, Chukwudi Ike, said that he had decided not to go anywhere on Mondays.

He said that the first Monday he went to his shop after IPOB announced the order, he didn’t make sales.

Residents in states in the South-East are groaning over the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra which they said continues to cripple socio-economic activities in the region.

In Ebonyi State, like in other states in the South-East, residents have continued to obey the order despite the group’s announcement of its suspension on August 9, 2021. The IPOB also noted that the order would be observed only on the days its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is to appear in court. The Federal Government is prosecuting Kanu for offences bordering on treasonable felony. He is IPOB’s leader and advocating Igbo Nation.

This is even in the face of last Sunday’s threat by the state governor, David Umahi, to sack civil servants who failed to report to work on Mondays. But the governor’s statement didn’t appear to move the civil servants who refused to go to work. Traders were also not left out as they refused to open their shops. The situation has adversely affected socioeconomic activities in the state and other states in the region.

On Monday, one of our correspondents, who monitored the situation in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, observed the closure of banks, markets, shops and filling stations in the state. Saturday PUNCH visited one of the commercial banks on Afikpo Road, Abakaliki, on Monday to interact with the guards there. One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he was instructed not to open the gate for anybody, including the bank’s employees.

He said, “I don’t know who you are but you can’t be asking me questions because I was instructed not to open the gate for any customer. If you want to withdraw money, use the ATM machine and leave. Other banks didn’t open for business and why should we open? It’s about the sit-at-home and many people are aware that it is still ongoing even after it was believed to have been suspended.”

At another bank on Ogoja Road, Abakaliki, it was discovered that the gate of the bank was under lock and key. Though a few customers converged on the gate for transactions, nobody attended to them. But an unidentified female who claimed to be one of the bank’s employees, said, “There is no point opening today (Monday), when everyone is aware that the safety of everyone is not guaranteed. Other banks did not open today and why should we open? Again, is our safety guaranteed if we open? Who will help us if we are attacked for opening for business?’’

Also, it was observed that many of the banks were not open for business. On Monday, major transport firms in the state did not open for business. The gates of Peace Mass Transit, Eastern Mass Transit, Romchi Mass Transit, Rivers Transport Company, among others, were shut.

Reacting to the development, a trader, Mrs Olanma Mercy, who sells foodstuffs, said the situation was affecting business activities in the state. According to her, if nothing is done to urgently address it, some people may be forced to go into crime.

Mercy said, “The sit-at-home order has its benefits and demerits. One, it was an opportunity for people to express their love for Nnamdi Kanu said to be fighting for Igbo Nation. But it’s worrisome for people to continue to observe the order even when IPOB said it had suspended it.

“The state economy was picking up from the damage done to it by COVID-19 pandemic. But all of a sudden, the sit-at-home came. We are losing customers and businesses are declining. Monday is the first working day of the week. People set goals and hopefully look forward to achieving them. But currently, our hopes are being dashed every Monday. It is terrible. Something needs to be done urgently too.”

On his part, a 35-year-old businessman and social commentator, Chika Nwogba, said the situation had destabilised economic activities in the state.

Advising that IPOB should use another approach to express their solidarity for Kanu in the interest of the poor, Nwogba urged government at all levels and stakeholders to look into the situation to forestall breakdown of law and order in the South-East.

He added, “The situation in Abakaliki, the state capital on Mondays is usually terrible. As a matter of fact, economic activities are being affected negatively to the point that one finds it almost hard to buy food and other essential commodities needed for use on a daily basis.

“I deal in computer accessories and I know what I normally make on Mondays. But this has stopped suddenly. Customers are being diverted from the zone to other regions of the country. We are indeed losing a lot on Mondays as a people.

“In my estimation, the every Monday sit-at-home is affecting the state more than others. This is because there’s hunger and a high unemployment index in the state. Youths are not engaged in meaningful activities and as such, the order could give rise to somewhat deleterious occurrences in the face of the already tremulous security situation in the state. When security is standing upon a broken foot, the economy and the living will suffer its after effects.”

Another resident in the state, Mr Eno Samuel, said the situation had adversely affected socioeconomic activities in the state.

The 37-year-old businessman noted, “We are really suffering and it is something that people should come out and condemn so that it can stop. Every Monday in the state we stay at home doing nothing while there are many things to do. This has brought untold suffering on the people and we are losing much money. How and when did we get to this kind of situation? Customers that bring goods for us to do our business have been complaining and many of them have stopped sending goods to us. This is worrisome and needs to be addressed.’’

The ever- busy Imo government House Roundabout: Bank Raod area deserted on Monday morning as residents observed IPOB’S sit-at-home order despite its cancellation a fortnight ago. Photo: Chidiebube Okeoma
Imo residents groan under order

The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, noted that the sit-at-home had no impact on the residents of the state who he said didn’t obey it. The governor made the statement on August 25 while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. But for the fourth Monday running on August 30, residents of Owerri, the Imo State capital, observed the weekly order.

In the state, commercial activities are always grounded every Monday. Banks, markets, shopping malls, eateries and shops remain locked every Monday since August 9. Schools, mechanic workshops, recreational centres and churches were under lock and key since the announcement of the weekly sit-at-home protest by the secessionists.

Though IPOB had since August 9 suspended the weekly protest, residents of the state continue to obey the order. Every Monday, the streets of Owerri are like a graveyard. The story is the same in Okigwe and Orlu towns. Small areas such as Ahiara Junction, Anara market Roundabout, Umuaka market and Amaraku are always deserted on Mondays.

From Douglas to Wethedral to Ikenegbu, Imo State University junction, Item streets, wood market at Aba Road and Alaba International market in Owerri, the story is the same.

The ever-busy Bank Road in Owerri experiences the same development. All the banks closes every Monday with few residents who come for transactions getting stranded.

Imo State University, Owerri, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo, Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, are also deserted on Mondays too.

Saturday PUNCH observed that only fuel stations and pharmacy shops open for businesses on Mondays but suffer low patronages.

The popular Okigwe- Owerri Road, Imo State University, Owerri, Junction, the ever busy government House Road about, Bank and Weatheral Roads are also usually deserted on Mondays.

The Imo State government and the state police command continue to assure the residents to go about their lawful business on Mondays. The police noted that it had the capacity to protect them.

A popular newspaper seller at the Government Roundabout in Owerri, Isinwa Favour, otherwise called Shege, told one of our correspondents that he hardly sells on Mondays since the order started.

Isinwa said, “We are used to it. There are no sales on Mondays these days. I have now made up my mind that every Monday there is no business. I only come out on Mondays to sightsee. Nobody comes out not to talk of buying papers.’’

Another business owner in Owerri, Chukwudi Ike, said that he had decided not to go anywhere on Mondays.

He said that the first Monday he went to his shop after IPOB announced the order, he didn’t make sales.

Ike, who sells female wares at Okigwe Road, said, “I don’t come out on Mondays because the first day I did it, I ended up selling anything. These days, I stay home with my family because it has come to stay. The sit-at-home has crippled the economy of the state. Each Monday, we are faced with the unusual reality that there will not be any business.

“Like a joke, it has become a reality. The economy is shrinking and businesses are going down. Government is losing revenue and investors are not coming. This is not the best way to show grievances. We can’t be destroying our economy. The amount we lose every Monday is unimaginable. This is unfortunate.”

Order sustained in Enugu

In Enugu State where residents also still obey the IPOB sit-at-home despite its suspension, some of the people condemned it while others felt it was a necessary sacrifice for freedom even as it’s affecting socio-economic activities.

Biafra, he claimed that there was nothing that the Igbo would do that wouldn’t affect everybody in the country.

“Every day that there is sit-at-home and is observed in the South- East, it will affect traders in the North even more than the southerners because most of the meat, tomatoes, yam and wears, including farm produce that come from the North will be stalled. The trucks can’t be brought into the South-East every Monday that the sit-at-home is observed. What happens to perishable goods brought into the region anytime the order can’t be quantified. It affects everybody, even in some places in Lagos and Abuja, some Igbo observe the order by not opening their shops. Other areas are affected likewise the South-East.’’

In his opinion, a trader at Ogbete Main Market, Dennis Ojobor, described the order as the worst thing that could happen to the Igbo regardless of divergent opinions on it.

Anambra not excluded

Despite the suspension of the order, people in Anambra State continue to obey it either out of fear or solidarity for the secessionists.

 

Source:- Punch Ng

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