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Nnamdi Kanu calls off boycott of general elections – why it matters

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Nnamdi Kanu calls off boycott of general elections – why it matters

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has asked members of the separatist group to participate in Nigeria’s general elections on Saturday after initially calling for a boycott.

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.

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