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Respite for businesses as ‘Sit-at-home’ in S/East fades

The impact of the ‘sit-at-home’ order given by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East, which has caused serious havoc to its…

The impact of the ‘sit-at-home’ order given by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East, which has caused serious havoc to its economy and crippled many businesses in the zone, appears to be waning down, given that some major cities are no longer abiding strictly to the order. Daily Trust Saturday report.

 

Daily Trust Saturday observed that some markets and businesses across the zone have started opening on Mondays.

Majority of people in the zone are traders and self employed, who rely on their daily income to feed their families. The sit-at-home had seriously affected traders in Onitsha main market and other markets across the South East because buyers hardly come to buy on Mondays. Those who come horriedly do their transactions or stop in neighbouring states.

Many traders, children and people in some parts of the South East states do not go to work  and school on Mondays or any day declared sit-at-home by the IPOB. The same applies to big shopping malls like Roban Stores, Spar, ShopRite and some other big markets like Ogbete main market, Onitsha main market, Nnewi Automobile market and many markets in Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia states. Most of them do not open for business until at about 3 or 4pm on Mondays or any day declared sit-at-home in the region.

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Operators of petrol stations, food vendors and other petty traders are reluctant to do their businesses on Mondays due to fear of the unknown in the region.

Although the South East states governments have shown uncommon commitments towards mitigating the illegal sit-at-home in their respective states, but there is always fear whenever people defy the sit-at-home order to move around on Mondays or any day of the week declared as such.

Every child of school age in the South East region has come to terms with the sad reality of Monday’s sit-at-home. They now believe that Monday is no longer a school day. Banks and other corporate organisations do not open on Mondays due to the fear of being attacked.

However, the ‘order’ has helped to boost business in Asaba, Delta State, because many traders relocated to the state due to insecurity and the sit-at-home order.

To mitigate the problem, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia State Governments have all declared ‘Operation No More Sit-At-Home’ and opened ccompulsory attendance book for workers to write their names on Mondays and other sit-at-home days but the orders are partially obeyed. Commercial activities in those states on Mondays are marred by the sit-at-home order, as activities are not in full operations.

Although most of the state capitals in the South East may not be feeling the pains of the sit-at-home but what happens in communities are uncertainty.

Places like Ihiala, Ukpor, Orsumoghu in Anambra State and Orsu, Oru, Orlu and other interior communities in Imo State are still under siege. Night life in the region has virtually become non existent due to insecurity.

However, in Anambra State, life in Anambra central and Anambra North Senatorial districts is gradually returning to normal, but in Anambra South, the sit-at-home order is still strictly observed.

Anambra State governor, Prof Charles Soludo, always hints on the need to free the state and recently, during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, commended the security operatives for liberating some local government councils.

He also opened a dedicated account where he urged the residents of the state to pay into for the purpose of fighting insecurity.

Daily Trust Saturday observed that vehicles can move from Enugu to Anambra State on Mondays unlike before.

An Anambra resident, Mr Chika Patrick, who spoke with our reporter, said that the sit-at-home is no longer as effective as it used to be before in the South East. According to him, people can now move around on Mondays in some areas in the state, though not everywhere.

Another resident Uche Okafor said that the sit-at-home is being gradually relaxed  especially in state capitals emphasising, however, that it is not so in most of the local government areas.

He said the efforts of the police, army and vigilante are really yielding fruits but called on the government to sustain the operation.

Okey Chukwuemeka, an indigene of Awka, said the sit-at-home is gradually dying and prayed that it does not resurface again in the city.

He hopes that the government and people of Anambra State will continue to partner with security operatives to end the matter.

In Imo State, the sit-at-home is still enforced in towns like Okigwe, Orsu, Orlu and others towns bordering Anambra State.

However, the combined security force is liberating some communities, while those in the supposedly freed areas are sometimes harassed for coming out on Mondays.

The Governors Forum

Governors of the South-East Zone had earlier met in Enugu and resolved to set up a joint 24-hour patrol team in all the major highways in the region.

They also insisted that a political solution was desirable in solving the issue of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kalu, stressing that they were monitoring developments over court rulings in his trial.

However, Governor Soludo of Anambra State had, as part of efforts to end the sit-at-home, offered amnesty to all those in the forests around in the state, urging them to drop their guns.

He  also declared an end to the sit-at-home exercise in the state.

He said also constituted a Peace and Reconciliation Committee that will look into issues surrounding the sit-at-home exercise.

According to Soludo, the committee will also interface with the Federal Government on how to end the menace.

Soludo said the release of Nnamdi Kanu would facilitate the quick ending of sit-at-home. He also promised to reintegrate them into the society for a better and meaningful engagement.

An Owerri-based lawyer, Mr Charles Ude, said that the issue is very dicey because if you support the agitation, you are seen as anti Nigeria and if you oppose, you will be seen as a betrayer.

“I think the only thing that will save the situation is good governance and if the country is properly managed. There should be a leadership that cares for the people,” he said.

The convener of Recover Nigeria Project, Comrade Osita Obi, said “The sit-at-home order is not dying and it is not increasing. It is still the way it has been over the years. The reason is that people do not have confidence in the government. The non actors are taking over the sit-at-home because they have instilled fear in the minds of the people and government is not doing anything to build confidence among the people. We can resolve this problem if the governors can come down from their Olympian height to listen to the advice of the people. Our governors are too elitists and they do not care about the happening in the communities,” he said.

He said that every community knows the criminals in their areas, noting that if the government empowers traditional rulers and town union organisation, security can improve.

He said there is no way criminals from other community will operate in any community without the help of insiders.

 

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