By Azubuike Okeh
Business activities in some parts of Port Harcourt have been hugely on a low ebb as many traders closed shops following the holiday declared by pro-Biafra agitators.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) had declared a May 30 a public holiday for their supporters to commemorate 50 years of the declaration of the secessionist state of Biafra.
They also said they wanted to remember those who died in the Nigerian civil war fought between Nigerian troops and rebel Biafra forces.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) check around the city showed that major business areas, especially those dominated by Igbo traders, were shut down.
Some traders who were seen around their business premises said they came to monitor the situation and not to open for business.
Some normally very busy roads, such as the Port Harcourt/Aba expressway, Ikwerre Road and the East/West Roads witnessed light traffic.
Meanwhile, some traders at the Building Material Market and the Nkpolu Oro-worukwo Shopping Centre, Mile Three Diobu, Port Harcourt, expressed support for the groups’ call.
Chief Ike Nwaugo, a trader said that the market union had given a directive stopping traders from opening their shops for business during the holiday.
“Nobody will open for business today; it is a directive even from the union in compliance with the call by the agitators of Biafra,’’ he said.
A trader at the Oyigbo Truck Park, Mr Ignatius Okorie, said that the holiday declared in honour of Biafra was responsible for the low economic activity in the area.
“Many people are at home, economic activities are at a very low ebb, the call for holiday is the cause of all these,’’ he said.
However, a lawyer, Mr Chijokwu Wombu, has criticised the observance of the holiday by some traders in Port Harcourt, saying, “ it is of no meaning.’’
He said the traders staying at home in adherence to the declaration of holiday did not make Rivers part of Biafra.
“I see the whole thing as mere showmanship, the traders merely pretend to have closed shops, but they are all milling around the business premises.
“I tell you that they are in business, just go close and ask for something, you will be surprised that they will sell to you, people should stop being deceptive,’’ he said.