The Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, has given two reasons he believes made traders across the South-East adhere to the stay-at-home order by IPOB and MASSOB, the two major separatist groups in the region.
In a video posted on YouTube Wednesday, Mr. Okorocha tackled misconceptions that he said many Nigerians held about why some Igbo decided to shun commercial activities on May 30, the 50th-anniversary of the commencement of civil war.
“Most people believe that the South-East supported the sit-at-home order by IPOB. That is not true,” Mr. Okorocha said in the video.
The first reason the governor gave was that the order had a semblance of compliance because it came amid 2017 Democracy Day —May 29— celebrations.
“The sit-at-home order by IPOB came a day after Democracy Day and our people in their natural characteristics would want to enjoy holidays as much as they can be extended,” he said.
Secondly, Mr. Okorocha said residents feared that the exercise could be hijacked by the criminals.
“The traders all over the country had fears that hoodlums could take over the moment to destroy their goods and properties,” he said.
“So, it is not true that the sit-at-home order was purposely obeyed as a mark of support for IPOB.”
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, had issued separate calls for all Nigerians of Igbo extraction to respect the significance of the Civil War by staying away from work.
At least 500,000 Igbo were said to have been killed during the war, which broke out in 1967 and ended in 1970.
In the video, an obviously tensed Mr. Okorocha implored Nigerians from the South-East to appreciate the need for a united Nigeria and shun agitation for statehood, which he said occasionally turns violent.
The governor said the Igbos are well integrated across the country and concluded that most vocal succession voices were allegedly pursuing their “selfish aggrandisement.”