Due to the honouring of Biafran fallen heroes and heroines on May 30, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has enjoined the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, to reschedule their examination and convocation, respectively, earlier scheduled for May 30, 2024. This was contained in an open letter released to newsmen by the group’s spokesman, Emma Powerful.

According to him, IPOB asked both institutions to pick new dates for their activities and warned that no public events should be held on the specified date. “That day remains sacred and a day that Biafrans sit at home to remember and honour our heroes who fell during the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970. No public event is expected to take place in Biafraland on this day. Biafra heroes’ day is a public holiday and a sit-at-home in Biafraland for Biafrans in honour of our fallen heroes and heroines,” Powerful stated. He went on to say: “All markets, schools, banks, government and private offices are expected to be under lock and key. Movement of persons and vehicles are not allowed except those on essential or emergency services, such as health workers, ambulance, fire service, filling stations and hospitals.”

Addressing WAEC, the group stated: “WAEC should not endanger the lives of children because that day is not safe for any individual in Biafran territory. It is a day everybody stays indoors for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to live and they must reschedule the date to another day. May 30 is a Biafran remembrance day. If anything happens to these children they want to bring out that day, they will regret doing so.”

Similarly, the group asked the authorities of UNIZIK to postpone their convocation scheduled for May 30, saying, “Biafra heroes’ day takes precedence over any other programme in Biafraland on that day. However, if the UNIZIK vice-chancellor and the management insist on having their convocation on May 30, 2024, in disregard of Biafran fallen heroes and heroines, they have decided to spit on the graves of Biafran heroes and heroines and should be ready to take responsibility for whatever happens afterwards.”

Consequently, the management of UNIZIK has shifted the varsity convocation scheduled for May 30 to May 31. The university had earlier fixed May 30 and 31 for its 18th convocation and award of degrees to its graduates and postgraduates. For the shifting of the convocation ceremony, the university’s Special Adviser on Special Duties and Media to the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Emma Ojukwu, explained that “the reason for the rescheduling is because of the federal government’s appointment of new Governing Council members who will be inaugurated in Abuja on May 30, 2024.” He also said: “All activities involving the undergraduate, postgraduate, award of honorary degrees and the convocation lecture will now hold on May 31.”

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Honouring the Biafran fallen heroes and heroines and other victims of the fratricidal Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 by IPOB is in order. However, using the solemn occasion to disrupt the WAEC examinations scheduled for May 30 in the South-East region will jeopardise the future of the students involved in the exams. It will also stunt their academic growth and future aspirations.

The IPOB’s stance on this matter is unacceptable. It is like an attack on the education of these children. We urge IPOB to have a rethink on this as it concerns the ongoing WAEC examinations and rescind its decision and allow the students take the exam on that day. We say this bearing in mind that WAEC examination is national and takes place in five countries in West Africa. It takes a lot of planning and resources to organise WAEC exams. Therefore, it will be extremely difficult for WAEC to shift the date for the exam in the South-East region.

At the same time, asking the authorities of UNIZIK to postpone its earlier scheduled convocation ceremony because of the remembrance of the dead is uncalled for. IPOB can still honour the dead heroes and heroines without disrupting academic and social activities earlier scheduled in the region. Unfortunately, the South-East region has not recovered from the economic losses occasioned by the hitherto Monday sit-at-home, which IPOB had reportedly banned, but which other groups sympathetic to the IPOB cause are still enforcing in parts of the South-East with much violence and lawlessness.

It is sad that the South-East region is no longer attractive to both local and foreign investors. People in some parts of the region are leaving in droves to other zones in the country due to growing insecurity and decline in business activities. Since education is key to socio-economic development of any nation or region, any action that would distort the academic future of the children of the South-East should be avoided.

Agitation for the good of the Igbo should not become an avenue to punish the people whose good is purportedly being pursued. Doing anything that would jeopardise the academic activities of Igbo children is anti-progress. The fallen heroes being celebrated on May 30 would not even like this. IPOB should allow South-East students write their WAEC exams, while also remembering fallen heroes. Doing so would prove that it has the interest and progress of these Igbo students at heart.

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