By Sidore Emeka Uzoatu
If any unanimity was arrived at the just-concluded Enugu meeting of Southeast leaders, it is the suspension of the weekly sit-at-home order originally initiated by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). According to the communique released after the meeting read by the convener and chairman, Southeast Governors Forum Mr Umahi of Ebonyi state, the sit-at-home has to come to a stop. Apart from the inexplicable absence of the Anambra governor/his deputy, the meeting was attended by most of the region’s political, traditional as well as religious kingpins. Inter alia, the meeting resolutely called on the people to go about their duties with neither fear nor favour from this Monday on. Speaking earlier in a dinner organised in honour of the former Chief of Army Staff and Nigeria’s ambassador to Benin Republic, Tukur Burutai, Umahi had stated that the region loses ten billion Naira each time the order is observed.
It can be recalled that since Monday the 9th of August, 2021, all inhabitants of the Southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria have remained locked-in every Monday to date. Initially, it was taken as a one-off affair to protest the alleged rendition of the IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya by the Nigerian authorities. But ever since, all subsequent Mondays have seen a continuation of the exercise. This is despite the avowal of the group’s spokesperson to the contrary. But like has transpired, the few who have dared to breach the order have come to harm’s way. Where they are not outrightly murdered in cold blood, their goods on transit have been either destroyed or consumed in bonfires. So much that it has been alluded that the compliance to the order is now mostly fuelled by fears of attack more than agreement to its aim.
In part, this lends credence to the revelation by Senator Abaribe representing Abia North to the effect that there may be up to thirty separate secessionist groups in the Southeast. Otherwise, how can everything be blamed on a group that have since distanced themselves from what they are being accused of? It’s on this count that I’m ready to bet that, come what may, we that reside in the zone may have to sit out many more Mondays at home. Most so, this coming one that has now turned into a kind of litmus test for the new order by our leaders. Like it stands, it’ll take more than a statement read at the end of a meeting to undo the magic. My argument, like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would sing in his Beasts of No Nation, is simple. All things being equal, the paintable scenario can only pan into appeals by the religious and traditional leaders and rulers respectively, and ‘executive orders’ by the political office holders.
And like has always happened, the mouthed pleadings by the non-governmental side – as soothing as it may come – is bound to fail. Then the government officials may be tempted to order law enforcement to roll out tanks. This is going by the latter’s vow ‘to do everything within the law’ to see this come to fruition. You know, well topped with the expletive that things go bad only when the good men at the top fail to do their bids.
As things stand, this can only be followed by a loaded question: to what effect? Most times these days we have seen the wielders of our power going against the grains of the trust imbued on them by the people. Like has been severally opined by the wise, it’s one thing to own a Ferrari and another to drive it up to speed. I can say on good authority that this inevitable trajectory the Imbroglio is coursing is bound to worsen rather than ameliorate the situation. I can even up the odds of the floating wager that if a few people could be seen abroad before, once the ‘invaders’ are unleashed, even ants will take to their holes. O yes, even in Ebonyi and Imo states whose governors are in the forefront of the vanguard. Of course, I’m not throwing this wager for nothing. More than anything else, I’m doing so on account of a previous happenstance of such nature in history. Only that it took place many centuries ago. Precisely, it came to pass in 1752 when the British Empire changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. It was aimed at bringing them in line with the rest of Europe, nay the world. Like was found out then, the former instituted by none other than Julius Caesar had an inbuilt error. It lost one day every 128 years due to a miscalculation of the solar year by eleven minutes. To make this possible, a total of eleven odd days had to be lost. Just like that.
That was how, following an ‘imperial order’, Wednesday the 2nd of September in that remarkable year was followed by Thursday, the 14th! Just like that! Meanwhile, as the rest of the empire rued the eleven lost days, one man used it as a caper in a bet. He smartly wagered that he could dance nonstop for twelve days and nights. Like the tale goes, on the evening of 2nd September, 1752, ‘he started to jig around the village, continuing through the night’. Well, when the next morning turned out to be September 14th by the new calendar, he didn’t only stop dancing: he promptly ‘claimed his bets’ too!
So, in effect I’m ‘going whoever dares one’, that come Monday, the 11th day of October, 2021, the entire Southeast will once more sit at home. I don’t know about the subsequent Mondays – they are too far to call. So, if you are gamed, account details will be traded at a more convenient platform. And, like once upon a reforming Swedish band sang, the winner takes it all. See you at the bank!
Uzoatu writes from Onitsha