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Nigeria – Their Election Boycott Fell Flat. What Now for the Biafra Separatists?

Picture: Forefront



The Nigerian Executive claims the secessionist group IPOB is “useless and gone”. Its supporters beg to range.

When an influential secessionist staff known as on People to boycott Anambra state’s election, many individuals anticipated the worst.

In Advance of the governorship poll on 18 November, the Indigenous Individuals of Biafra (IPOB) insisted that no election would take place until Nigeria’s federal Government agreed to carry an independence referendum for certain south-eastern states. Every Week earlier than the election, IPOB supporters stepped up this campaign, marching on the streets and vowing to disrupt the election.

“In The Event You vote you’ll die. Do Not go out, keep at your residence. If You Happen To vote on November 18, you will die,” one of the vital protesters threatened in a video that soon went viral.

Nigerians due to this fact awaited the November ballot with bated breath. IPOB has proven itself to be in style and its calls for a separate state of Biafra have vital improve In The region. Then Again, on the day itself, the method went Beforehand smoothly.

“The election used to be gladly peaceful”, says Chinedu Asadu, a Nigerian journalist who lined the election. Shortly after the vote, the incumbent Willie Obiano was declared the winner By Way Of a comfortable margin.

What took place? And what does this Imply for the Biafran secessionists’ combat going forwards?

No referendum, no election

It was under chief Nnamdi Kanu that IPOB initially vowed to disrupt elections. “If the Federal Executive does now not agree with us on a date for referendum, there might be no elections Within The Southeast,” he mentioned in June. “We Are starting with Anambra come November this year.”

In July, a bunch of Biafra separatists confronted the Anambra governor at his church, chanting “No referendum, no election”.

On Account That September, Then Again, Kanu has been lacking. Meanwhile, IPOB’s strategy softened a bit of over time. “It wasn’t unanimously agreed that elections will not be held,” says political analyst Ifeanyi Onyekere.

The promise to disrupt elections thus shifted into a less radical demand for a boycott. Through a mixture of door-to-door mobilisation, SMS messaging and printed flyers, IPOB tried to influence Folks to keep away from the ballot field to point out their displeasure At The Government. A Pair weeks ahead of the vote, police raided a printing press the place IPOB participants had been producing pamphlets with messages such as “call for referendum isn’t name for struggle” and “any individual who insists on participating Within The Anambra election can be doing so at his or her personal possibility”.

At The similar time, many IPOB supporters continued to issue threats around what may occur on 18 November.

On the day itself, there was some hesitation amongst voters. “In some polling cubicles, voters got here late. In some locations accreditation of voters started two three hours after the proper election time table; they wished to know that the location is protected prior to balloting,” says Asadu.

On The Other Hand, partly as a result of the heavy safety presence, the process came about with little incident. Turnout was low at a mere 22%. However this was now not ordinary. In 2013, turnout used to be just 24%.

Complete failure?

In The wake of failed boycott, Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed claimed that IPOB is “dead and long past” and that the a success election was once its demise knell. “I Believe what that proved is that IPOB does now not signify the great People of Anambra state or any state In The south east,” he said.

Onyekere concurs the boycott used to be “a complete failure”and means that the workforce’s momentum is also fading In The absence of Kanu. Following a success elections in Anambra and likewise Enugu prior in November, he says IPOB could “die a natural death”.

Alternatively, the analyst claims that the “majority of this population” still backs the theory of Biafran independence even supposing they don’t seem to be necessarily reliable IPOB supporters.

Sopuru Amah, a registered member of the staff, in a similar fashion emphasises the marketing campaign’s ongoing enhance. He attributes the failure of the boycott to not IPOB’s waning reputation, However disagreement over this specific technique.

“If any person decides to vote will you stop him?” he says. “In a household like this, there’s no approach you can expect everyone to purpose the same manner. Some Individuals love the speculation of Biafra However they did not buy into the theory of boycotting the election.”

Amah additionally disagrees with the recommendation that IPOB can’t live to tell the tale without its charismatic leader. “When Kanu used to be in prison [from October 2015 to April 2017], IPOB was doing neatly and he has dependent a smartly-structured leadership who can pilot IPOB’s affairs in his absence,” he says.

Although its protest across the Anambra election fell flat, Amah warns towards writing off the staff simply yet, claiming more movements are In The offing.

“We’re beneath a command and they are the ones to tell us what to do next,” he says.

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