The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum urged individuals preparing to abstain from voting in the general elections in Nigeria’s southeast to abandon their plans, emphasizing that a sit-at-home protest will not result in the establishment of the independent state of Biafra.
The elders of the Igbo people claim that those who support staying at home are enemies of the Igbo people, and they urged young people to head to the polls on Saturday to cast their votes for the candidates they chose.
During a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, former Police Service Commission chair Chief Simeon Okeke, former Anambra governor Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and professor Charles Nwekeaku were among those who made the call.
Okeke said, “Elections in the South-East must be held,” while urging the people of the South-East to go out en masse on February 25 to vote for the candidates of their choice. “Those calling for a sit-in at home will be regarded as enemies of the Igbo nation.
“To those who are demanding a separate country called Biafra, don’t forget that your fathers and grandfathers demanded and fought to have that same Biafra roughly 52 years ago. Millions died in action and out of sheer starvation. Some of us here participated in that bloody war.
“What makes you believe that you can win that war this time through extreme activism? That war was fought with guns, armoured tanks, etc. We must think strategically in determining how to structure the future for our people, children, and grandchildren.”
The elders appealed to residents of the region to learn from history and similar circumstances that have happened around the world.
He said further, “You could argue that your demand for separate existence is a basic human right. But the quest for a separate existence is not restricted to Nigeria. In Britain, for instance, Scotland, which is part of that country, is seeking a separate existence. So is the case in Spain, where Barcelona is demanding the same. None of them is demanding it by killing and maiming their fellow countrymen and women, by imposing a needless sit-at-home order.
“They do it by participating actively in their country’s general elections, where they sponsor candidates who will be their voice in their parliament, where they argue their case and push it via a referendum to decide which way to go.
“Why not borrow a leaf from them and pursue your demand in a civilised manner? You can never get Biafra through violence, slaughtering yourselves, or sitting at home when parents should be at work and children should be in school.
“South-East residents have been coerced into complying with a sit-at-home order. This irregularity, which has also been extended to Election Day, when people are looking forward to using their vote to speak their minds, must not be allowed to happen.
“It is for this reason that the combined voices of elders, youths, men, women, and our retired military and paramilitary officers have come out to state unequivocally and reject this situation in its entirety.”