Ndigbo Will Vote Massively Regardless Of The Boycott By IPOB

By Ikenga Chronicles November 19, 2018

Ndigbo Will Vote Massively Regardless Of The Boycott By IPOB

–By Philip Odoemena

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is urging the people of South Eastern Nigeria to boycott the 2019 Presidential elections unless the Federal Government agrees to set up a date to conduct a referendum for its call for Biafra Sovereignty.  The question here is what is the correlation between a date for referendum and election boycott in early 2019?

If the referendum that IPOB is asking for pertains to the independence or a Igbo sovereignty, I beg to differ towards their approach to sovereignty movement. I also beg to differ in their notion to boycott a general election which is the civic right of Nigerian citizens, including the right of the people of Eastern Nigeria. IPOB alone does not make up to 1% of the population of Eastern Nigeria as result, the minuscule percentage of IPOB and its followers will not make any impact on the result of the elections in the event of a boycott.

There is no doubt that the people of Eastern Nigeria and some of its neighboring States have been grossly marginalized in Nigeria. The growing discontent and the alienation felt by the Igbo people, attributed in part to the poisoned atmosphere following the demand for a distinct nation. Yes, a group or set of people within a nation whose sovereignty and human rights, including economic and political restraint are affected, have the right to seek self-determination after all efforts to eliminate irreconcilable tensions failed.

Having established the premises, IPOB ought to know that everything has a process to get from point A to point B. At this point, a boycott of a general election in few months definitely will not cut the chase. By boycotting a federal general election, what actually is IPOB trying to achieve? Obviously, there is no love lost between IPOB and the current ruling government led by President Muhammad Buhari. Assume, all registered voters in Eastern Nigeria boycott the elections, guess who will be the beneficiary of this boycott. Certainly, the Buhari led government will be in the driver’s seat. I ask again, what is the IPOB’s reason to suggest the boycott of the 2019 general elections?

IPOB alone does not make up the entire Igbo population in Nigeria. The primary thing the IPOB should do is to find out if the rest of the Igbo people are in agreement with the boycott suggestion. The 2018 CIA World Fact book and the World Population Review (WPR) puts Nigerian population in excess of 197 million people of which the Igbo population is 18% of Nigeria’s total population or approximately 35.5 million people. How can a group that is less than 1% of the Igbo population influence 35 million people to boycott a general election without having intense dialogue with the rest of the population or at least with the Igbo Stakeholders.

Earlier, I put forward that there is always a process to get from point A to point B. IPOB alone cannot effectively or successfully procure a date for referendum from the Federal government. A total backing and complete solidarity of Igbo people must be in place in order to inculcate tangible pressure on the government to consider such a request.

One way to secure probable affirmation from Igbo people is to set out an arrangement for the referendum, such arrangement may be in the form of survey or town hall meetings in all local government areas with a referendum question such as, “Should Ndigbo/Biafra be an independent country?”  The participants then have the option to answer, “Yes” or “No” Assume the “Yes” participants have the highest numbers, that sets a favorable stage to persuade the government to consider a referendum.

For the third time, I am asking IPOB, what actually is the objective for calling on the people of South East to boycott the presidential election coming up in few months? I read somewhere that the main reason for the call to boycott the Presidential election is that such action will force the Federal government to insert the referendum date in the ballot. Obviously, this reason will not get the job done.

Nigerian voters are much smarter these days. They know that voting is one of the most powerful tools to get their voices heard. Voting is how they exert influence over the people who govern them. Any group that would deny the people the right to vote is by definition dictatorial. So if voting is so critical to the maintenance of a democracy or an avenue to vote out a leader, how can IPOB be calling for a boycott of the 2019 elections?

If IPOB firmly believes that they are in collision fender-bender with APC, their decision to boycott the presidential elections effectively clears a part for President Buhari’s re-election to another four-year term and throw the future of IPOB’s referendum call in a deeply weakened state.

When the leader of the IPOB re-surfaced in Israel recently, he announced that: “In 2019, the whole of Biafra land will not vote for any president. There will be no Senator, there will be no House of Reps, there will be no House of Assembly and there will be no Councilor-ship elections in Biafra land if they fail to call for a referendum.” Daily Post of Nigeria

This whole concept is very illogical. How can this be possible that there will be no voting in the South East for any president, no vote for any Senator, House of Representative, and House of Assembly. While the IPOB has the right to tell its members not to vote, it has no right to tell the entire people of South East not to vote. As a matter of fact, IPOB stand to gain more support if it encourages Ndigbo to vote for these candidates. The closer IPOB is to the politicians in the South East, the easier it will be for them to get support for its referendum movement.

The general elections is around the corner, while Nigeria and the whole world waits to see what will happen during the election, with respect to the proposed boycott, it is hoped that on the side of IPOB, the entire idea will not be a pride before a fall.