Roads and business premises in the commercial of Aba as well as Umuahia, the Abia State capital were deserted on Friday as Nigeria marked its 61th Independence Anniversary nationwide.
Business and economic activities in the state were grounded to a halt following the total compliance of the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The self determination group had ordered for the sit-at-home to press for a referendum for its demand for an Independent State of Biafra from the Nigerian government and also the release of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, now in the facilities of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Nonetheless, the Independence Anniversary was marked with a nondenominational Church Service at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia where the clergy in the state asked the federal government to do every within its powers to stop the country, particularly the Southeast, from degenerating into anarchy.
The service was the climax of a one day solemn assembly organised by the Abia State government tagged “Abia Day of Fasting and Prayer” with the theme: “Oh Lord Heal Our Land”.
In his sermon at the Church Service, the President, Eastern Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist, Pastor (Dr) Bassey Udoh tasked Nigerian leaders to step up the war on insecurity to avert the current wanton killings in the country.
He also asked the federal government to ensure that equity, justice and fairness are enthroned in the political and economic space of the nation to stop the spate of self agitations by some ethnic groups.
However, speaking at the service, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu stressed the need for Nigerians to hold on to God for direction as the nation grapples with existential numerous challenges confronting the nation at a time like this.
Ikpeazu noted that there is cause to worry as the country has found itself in a near hopeless situation, especially as it affects security of lives and property, adding that but for God, Nigerians would have lost all hope.
He however thanked God for the grace upon Abia, pointing out that despite difficulties the state has witnessed relative peace and security and has also made appreciable progress.
The Abia chief executive stated that it is for the above reasons and others that he facilitated the fasting and prayer session to seek the face of God and prayed that God will heal our Land, even as he used the forum to call for prayers for the 10 Abia youths who will soon depart the state for India to further their studies under the Abia Scholarship Programme.
In his opening remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, Barr Chris Ezem said the day is a special day dedicated for praying and fasting in Abia State for the Lord to heal the land and maintained that Nigeria is under trial as banditry, kidnapping, insurgency among other social vices have become the order of the day.
The highlights of the event were some intercessory prayers for the state and nation.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.