PORT Harcourt, the capital of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, and the capital city of Rivers State in Southern Nigeria, erupted into an orgy of wild cat protest again on Tuesday, after some two weeks break. Vehicular movements in and out of the state at Oyigbo, a boundary community with Abia State in Eastern Nigeria, was completely paralysed for some 60 minutes.
A flood of armed security personnel however, managed to break the resistance of the protesting youths along the busy Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway. Hausa-Fulani traders who usually swamp the road junction, disappeared for their dear lives.
Thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets of of Nigeria, including Abuja, the capital city, to press for their political demands. They are busy expressing their resolve for the unconditional release of the Director of Radio Biafra and the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The protesters have always been seen carrying various placards with various inscriptions rooting for the release of their leader and freedom for Biafra people.
Biafra is a short lived Republic that existed in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria, comprising Eastern and Southern Nigeria today. It existed between 1967-1970. The Biafrans’ lost’ the bloody war which consumed above three million civilians Most protesters are of the view that neglect, failure of the government to redevelop the moribund led to the renewed agitation. After the war ended in 1970, the federal government re annexed the oil rich region into the Nigeria component.

Repeated warnings by the military do not appear to be deterring the protesters. They seem to be spurred by the undying rampage of the deadly Boko Haram insurgency. The latest protests were triggered by the detention of Mr Kanu, the UK-based leader of the IPOB. He came to Nigeria last month and was arrested by the authorities, accused of treason.

Security sources say he was arrested for broadcasting hate speech both on the internet and through a banned London-based radio station called Radio Biafra, which he has been using to promote his call for the creation of a Biafran nation.
He has already appeared in court but is still under detention as his trial is yet to get off the ground.
Community leaders in the Niger Delta where protests taking place, have already disassociated themselves from the agitation, warning the protesters to stay clear of the oil-producing region.But, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, an Ijaw freedom fighter, does not appear to be travelling with the community leaders. He has been very vociferous in his support for Biafra.
Within Igboland, state governors met for the second time last weekend to agree a common approach to the matter.
But their effort was hampered by the refusal of some members of the pan-Igbo group Ohanaeze Ndigbo to attend the meeting.
However, they did set up a committee of elders to meet the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue. They said they would ask the federal government to find ways of addressing the region’s lack of infrastructure and development. Buhari, a former military ruler who fought in the civil war, will be watching the Igbo leaders’ response to the issue with concern. He has less than a month to go to meet his own deadline to end the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency that has devastated the north-east.
In the mean time, many will argue that conflict is not born out of religion, but by those disaffected by lack of opportunities and unemployment – precisely the issues that commentators believe are driving the young pro-Biafra protesters. Members of the Igbo establishment now face the tricky task of trying to rein in the youthful protesters who often say they are ready to die for their cause.
By Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt, Nigeria