Enugu - Many of the south easterners who
returned home for fear of election violence are now trapped in the dilemma of
whether to go back to their base or not.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that many of the
returnees arrived at the weekend, oblivious of the postponement of the
presidential and National Assembly elections from Feb. 14 to March 28, and
April 11 for governorship and state assembly seats.
Consequently, the returnees are now faced with the decision
to remain till the new election dates or return back to their businesses and
In Enugu, some of the returnees expressed disappointment
with the postponement, saying that it had put them in the dilemma of whether to
stay back home or return for their means of livelihood.
A businessman, Mr Emmanuel Agu who lives in Kano, said that
he moved his family to his village only for INEC to shift the election by six
"Honestly, this situation has brought untold economic
hardship to me because l had budgeted that my family will spend three weeks
here but with the postponement, they will now stay for about two months.
"l moved them for the fear of post-election violence as
witnessed in 2011. We really spent a huge amount of money to convey our load to
Also read: Jonathan says 'not consulted' on election postponement
"In fact, I am stranded here because I don’t know whether
to leave my business and stay back till the end of the elections or go back to
Kano with my family.
“My major problem is money because I am not doing anything
here in Enugu and it will be difficult for me to go back to Kano and come back
in six weeks.
“I am calling on public spirited individuals to come to our
aid since it is obvious that we cannot stay in the northern part of the country
during the elections,” he said.
Another returnee, Mr Pius Ugwuanyi, who resides in
Maiduguri, said that coming down to Enugu had paralysed his business.
He lamented that a few days after he came back from
Maiduguri with his family, the election was shifted.
“I received the news with mixed feelings because I don’t
have money to go and come back in six weeks with my family.
“I am truly confused, but I have no option than to stay back
till the end of the elections.
"The implication now is that my staying back in Enugu will
really paralyse my business because my customers will certainly run away before
I go back.
“My major problem now is how to survive with the little
money in my possession till the end of the general elections,” he said.
From Awka, a spare parts dealer in Maiduguri, Mr Francis
Onwumelu, said that the postponement would affect his business and the
education of his children.
“We closed our shops to travel down to Awka with my family
last weekend hoping to return immediately after the elections, but as it is
now, we cannot go back until April.
“This will seriously affect my business and the education of
my children who are supposed to be in school,” he said.
For Mrs Maureen Ijedibia, who sells dry fish in Lokoja, the
option is to return to her base and face her business before the elections.
“Going back to Lokoja has become necessary for me because I
did not save enough money that will take me till April after the elections,”
From Abakaliki, Mrs Nkiru Aja, a business woman in Taraba,
told NAN that she had since returned to her base with her family to resume
“I am a widow with four children and I cannot afford to lose
any of them which is why I returned with them.
“The postponement has caused a lot of confusion and doubled
the expenses for me, but we accept it in good faith.
"I pray that all the relevant stakeholders in the conduct
of the election would justify the reasons for the adjustment,’’ she said.
Another returnee, Mr Kenneth Chukwuma, who does his business
in Gombe, said he could not afford to stay till April.
“We are not questioning the judgment of INEC or the security
chiefs but what is the guarantee that the dates the elections were shifted to
“My children are in school and six weeks is too much for
them to stay back home. We will go back to Gombe,’’ Chukwuma said.
Meanwhile, the Imam of Aba Mosque in Abia, Alhaji Idris
Bashir, has confirmed that a good number of people of northern extraction that
left Aba for their homes did so for fear of attack during the elections.
Bashir also told NAN that some had left to cast their votes
since they did not register in Aba.
"Some of those that left the city are those who registered
in their state and have gone to vote but some of us who registered in Abia are
still here,’’ he said.
The movement of the northerners doing business in Aba has
affected the cost of some food items like yams, beef, water melon and cucumber,