Ignore sit-at-home, go out to vote — SE traditional leaders plead
South-East Nigeria’s traditional leaders, under the auspices of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, an apex Igbo socio-political organization, have urged residents in the region to ignore any sit-at-home order and exercise their right to vote for their preferred candidates on election days.
This statement by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide is in response to an alleged sit-at-home order issued by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Since the leader of the proscribed group—Nnamdi Kanu—has been held in prison, Finland-based Samuel Egba has been overseeing most of the sit-at-home orders and attacks in the region.
The statement was released at the end of the inaugural edition of the 2023 Executive Committee Meeting of the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers (SECTR), held at the Old Eastern Nigeria House of Chiefs, Enugu, and attended by royal fathers and other members of the Executive Committee of the Council, on Sunday.
The custodians of traditional institutions agreed on some very important roles that should help in ensuring peace and security, particularly in the run-up to the general election, and took a number of decisions.
“First, the royal fathers called on the people of the south-east to go out en masse to vote for their preferred candidates during the elections and to ignore any order for sit-at-home.
“Second, the council appealed to the security agencies to create a conducive and safe environment for the general election, while calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to act professionally and patriotically.
“Third, the killings and destruction of property in the south-eastern region and across the country are condemned in strong terms by the council.
“Fourth, the council called on all traditional rulers to take control of their various domains during the upcoming elections for peaceful, free, and credible elections to take place,” it said.
The statement was signed by Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, Chairman of the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Chairman of the Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha and Chairman of the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Joseph Nwabeke, Ezeamara of Eziama Ntigha, and Chairman of the Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers.
In the meeting, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, expressed shock over the continued sit-at-home order given by Egba IPOB, saying that it is a deliberate move to disenfranchise and reduce the numerical advantage of the region.
“Ohanaeze stands firmly on natural justice and equity to proclaim that it is the turn of the South East of Nigeria to produce a President for Nigeria and by the irrevocable forces of providence, the right thinking Nigerians and the global community have embraced the virtues in Peter Obi as the most suitable, competent, visionary, inspiring and energetic presidential candidate for the forthcoming general election.
“It is therefore strange that at the very rare consensus and convergence of history, equity, public consciousness, and expertise in Obi, an impetuous youth will engage in an unreflective drumbeat that draws his people to a macabre dance.
“It is also curious that while the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful, has dissociated IPOB from “any sit-at-home in the South-East during the election period, urging residents to disregard the rumoured order making the rounds by the Simon Ekpa” and that “IPOB is only interested in the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu,” the Autopilot ignores the necessary landing permit by his people.
“Ohanaeze therefore urges the residents in Igbo land to ignore the sit at home in its entirety.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo commends the interventions with the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen, by Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Usman Baba; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; the Igbo Union in Finland; the public, especially the youths; and the reassurances of President Muhammadu Buhari with respect to security and a free and fair election in 2023,” he said.