By Ori Martins
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari on Monday touched down at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, for a one day working visit in Imo State.
In spite of the Imo State Government’s assurances that the masses would shun IPOB’s sit – at – home directives to come out in their numbers to welcome the president, virtually all the major roads in the state, particularly those in the metropolis, were deserted.
The people stayed back in their homesthe day apparently due to fear of attacks by the Biafra’s agitators.
The active Douglass Road was a shadow of its self as the area was totally empty. The link between the Douglass Road and the Imo Government, Wetheral Road was completely deserted as commercial and drivers as well as commuters never came out for their daily bread as usual.
Similarly, there were low commercial activities all round the capital city of Owerri.
For instance, banks premises were locked as if there was a public holiday. Markets such as Relief located at Egbu Road, Eke Onunwa at the heart of Owerri Nche Ise was a sleepy enclave just as Ogbo Oshishi, the timber market that houses building materials in Owerri was a ghost point. Equally, Alaba located along the Aba – Owerri Road never transacted any business.
In a chat with Business Hallmark, Chukwu Monday, a trader at Tetlow Road, Owerri, said he stayed at home to obey the IPOB directive. “There is no way I would have opened my business today. My shop is at Tetlow, I deal on article of clothing, unisex. IPOB asked us not to come out today because Mazi Nnamdi Kanu wold be in the court today. It is unfortunate it coincided with President Buhari’s state visit to Imo. Not only me, you can see everywhere is empty”, Chukwu enthused.
In his submission, Mike Njoku, who was seeing driving empty in his bus and heading for his house in Ishiuzor, Egbu, near Owerri, noted that he wanted to go out for business but couldn’t because the roads were deserted. “I drove out this morning on the grounds that the state government assured there would be movement and security for protection. But as I observed now, the roads are empty and all the security vehicles I saw were in a haste, meaning they were going to the airport or government house. It is best for me to go home”.
This is the second time in one year Imo masses would be observing a sit – at – home while President Buhari would be on a state visit. It was on September 9, 2021 that the streets of Owerri and indeed the entire Imo were deserted when Buhari came calling. Today, again, the same scenario played out.