Tinubu Fears IPOB Monday Sit-at-home Order, Adjusts South-East Rallies
The Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress has adjusted the dates it plans to hold rallies in the South-East region on the schedule of activities for the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Although no official reason was given, a source in the campaign council told Sunday Punch correspondent that the party earlier did not consider that “Monday is a dreaded period” for anybody to go out in some areas of the South-East.
Naturenex observed that the ruling party had shifted its campaign in the zone from Monday as a result of the mandatory sit-at-home order imposed by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
The source said, “If you drive out anyhow in the South-East on a Monday, it is at owner’s risk. The South-East is not a place where you can just veer into and gather people in the name of politics.
“So, we have to make that necessary amendment in dates, not necessarily because of possible confrontation, but to make people willing to troop out for the rallies.”
The separatist group introduced the sit-at-home order in August 2021 to protest and demand the release of its supreme leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is still standing trial for treason and terrorism charges.
In the previous timetable, Tinubu’s campaign and zonal stakeholders’ meeting earlier scheduled to hold in Imo State on Monday, November 21, was shifted to Tuesday.
Anambra’s rally slated for Monday, January 30, was also moved to Tuesday according to the adjusted presidential campaign timetable, which was released by the campaign council on Friday night.
When contacted, the Chief Spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, reassured our correspondent that the change in date has nothing to do with Eastern Security Network or IPOB.
“As the ruling party, our plan is to cover the entire country. We should not be seen as giving oxygen to non-state actors,” he stated.
On whether the APC is dodging IPOB by shifting their rallies from the Mondays that were earlier pencilled down, Keyamo disclosed that the allegation was far from the truth.
The Minister of State for Labour maintained that the timetable was a working draft and not cast in gold.
He said, “That is not true. We are not running away from anybody or group. As I earlier told you, the timetable is just a working document that can be amended any time.”
In a related development, the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is equally not willing to schedule the party’s rallies for Monday in the South-East, despite being his stronghold.
His unwillingness to stage such campaigns on Monday has made supporters and spokespersons for the opposition, including Reno Omokri, Daniel Bwala and Asari Dokubo, to dare him to hold campaign rallies on Monday to prove he is not afraid of IPOB.
Obi has scheduled its campaign to hold in Enugu State on Thursday, December 8; Ebonyi on Friday, December 9; Anambra State on Saturday, December 10; Imo on Tuesday, December 13 and Abia State on Wednesday, December 14.
But his Presidential Campaign Council Spokesperson, Dr Yunusa Tanko, defended him saying, those making the request are being mischievous.
According to him, Obi intends to campaign in the entire South East and is not afraid of anybody.
He said, “We are campaigning just like every other person is campaigning in the South East. What is the fuss about having it on Monday or not? After all, our plan is to campaign in all the Eastern States.”
On whether Obi is equally afraid of IPOB by not choosing Monday, Tanko disagreed, saying “A wise leader knows how and when to engage aggrieved individuals and groups.
‘Sheathe your sword’
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party is prepared to flag off its presidential campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Monday, October 10.
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has cautioned members of the proscribed IPOB to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign in the South-East, noting that the detained leader of IPOB will soon be released.
The group also stated that some elders in the South-East led by the leader of Ohanaeze, Prof George Obiozor, were engaging with the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to seek Kanu’s release.
Sunday PUNCH reports that some members of IPOB on Friday protested in Aba, Abia State, over the non-release of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government.
The protesters vowed not to allow the 2023 election hold in the South East if their leader was not released and Biafra granted them.
They urged Nigeria to forget the 2023 election in South East “if our leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is still in DSS custody”.
The protest which was held in Abia South local government areas was peaceful and monitored by security agencies.
The protesters warned that they would be forced to not only shut down the economy of the state and the South-East but the entire country until their leader was released from detention.
“This is part of our renewed warning signal to the federal government that they should forget 2023 elections in the southeast if they continue to detain Nnamdi Kanu”, the protesters said.
Reacting to this development, the spokesperson for the Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, in a Saturday interview with Sunday PUNCH warned the aggrieved secessionist not to build for themselves a ‘Frankenstein’ that may come to consume them.
“Our position on this matter has been very constant on this matter. Nothing is ever solved with violence. In the first place, the president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ambassador George Obiozor, has already teamed up with other Igbo elders to engage the president and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, to seek Nnamdi Kanu’s release. That engagement is in process and we are very confident of that. We want to believe that the president will understand the viewpoints of the Igbo elders and do the needful. I want to also believe that this effort will be successful,” he said.