Backstory: The announcement came on Thursday, Feb. 14 via Kanu’s Twitter account. He said, “Having confirmed this evening that all our preconditions and terms have been met, signed, sealed and delivered; I hereby call-off the election boycott across Biafraland on Feb. 16, 2019.”
Kanu had previously told members of the group to boycott the elections while demanding for a referendum to determine their continued allegiance to Nigeria.
The group had agreed that the boycott will serve as a form of a referendum which would determine whether or not the Igbo people of the South-east will secede from Nigeria.
“IPOB will liberate Biafra and we will not take part in any election until we get a referendum, and this is not negotiable, we will achieve this by every necessary means,” Kanu had said in a broadcast in 2018.
The referendum is to “ascertain a number of those who want Nigeria politics and those who want Biafra freedom through a peaceful and democratic process for the sovereignty of our dear nation Biafra,” IPOB spokesman, Comrade Emma Powerful said in a statement.
The call for a boycott of the elections has been condemned by Igbo leaders including the Ohaneze Ndigbo, an Igbo sociopolitical group.
Why it matters: The end of the call for a boycott by IPOB is a welcome news for civic engagement advocates. The 2015 general elections saw a voter turnout of just about 44% as a percentage of the total number of registered voters, compared to 54% in 2011. A boycott may have negatively affected the turnout on Saturday. The opposition PDP may also see the announcement as a welcome development considering that the South East is considered one of its strongholds.
Bottom Line: It is unclear what preconditions are terms were met which necessitated the about-turn by Kanu or who assured them that those terms will be met for that matter. But the news that the boycott has been called off is a welcome one.