BIAFRA: IPOB Election Boycott, A legitimate tool to restore the freedom of Biafrans

   Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 22:05 GMT

Written By
Comr. Felix C Onyemachi
For IPOB Writers Press

Civil disobedience, also called passive resistance may be seen as a refusal to obey the demands of a government without resorting to violence. Its usual purpose is to force concessions from the government or occupying power. Civil disobedience brings immediate attention to a problem or unjust law. This will correct the unjust law quicker and makes a society that much better for its citizens.

While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary”, including violence, Martin Lurther King, Jr.used the power of words and acts of non-violent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly impossible goals. Mahatma Gandhi used non-violent civil disobedience to achieve India’s independence from England. In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics too, huge street protests have brought down governments.

An election boycott can be very effective. The most recent local election in Nepal is a good example where the major opposition parties urged the voters to stay away from the poll and only 21% of the electorate took part. As a result, all the major international players in Nepal (US, China, EU, Britain, and India) denounced the election as being a hollow exercise.

In Nigeria for example, the decision on whether to participate in an election or not is an individual choice unlike in Belgium where participation is seen as a legal requirement to all voters.

Nnamdi Kanu advocates for civil disobedience in order to achieve Biafra referendum. The action was part of strategies by the IPOB leadership to attract the attention of the federal government of Nigeria, as well as, world leaders to the undying demand for independence of the defunct Republic of Biafra.

Mass protests and election boycotts are the major civil disobedience adopted by the Indigenous People of Biafra. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have been conducting their campaigns for the independence of Biafra in a non-violent manner. However, despite the group’s non-violent posture, the Nigerian government and its security agencies had mindlessly killed, maimed, arrested, detained and prosecuted several Pro-Biafra agitators over the years.

The vast majority of the military forces fighting IPOB have historically been recruited from ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria. Such ethnic groups include the Kanuri-to which most Boko Haram/Muslim members belong. Opening fire on peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly poised no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.

As a result of these mass killings during protests, the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra have resorted to another type of civil disobedience called “Election Boycott”. Election boycotts have a role to play in a democracy that is not functioning as it should be and where fair competition is impossible. Elections in Nigeria are marred by rigging, political violence, killings and manipulation of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  It is becoming clear why Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clamoured for the boycott of elections in Biafraland, because the entire system is rigged. No trust on Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It is essential to state categorically that election is not the solution to the problem of the Biafran people. We have been electing people to political offices, but this has only brought untold sufferings and hunger to the people. Elections in Biafraland have only produced servants to the Hausa/Fulani Oligarchy and those who feed on crumbs from their table. It is IPOB determination to restore Biafra republic where its people will have greater freedom and accommodation.

A boycott of an election by a section of the people may have political significance. Article 134(2) of the Nigerian constitution stipulates that “a presidential candidate will be duly elected after attaining both the highest number of vote cast, and having received at least a quarter of the votes at each of at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This requirement may not be realised if all the states in Biafraland refused to vote.

There may also be tactical reasons for an organised non-participation. This is where the IPOB leadership must be very careful with Nigeria government. The most obvious example is when a referendum needs a certain turn out to be valid. In such cases, it might be rational for those supporting a “NO” alternative to ask their supporters to refrain from voting instead of voting “NO” because it may be more likely to obtain a low turnout than to win a majority for the no-vote.

Edited & Published by IPOB writers
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