In Defence of Radio Biafra

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It is quite surprising how all of a sudden the so-called illegal Radio Biafra reportedly being operated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, said to be resident in the United Kingdom, is increasingly becoming a source of serious concern to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, a section of the Nigerian Online Media and some Nigerian elements who are wont to believe that Ndigbo must always dance to their tune or do what suits their thinking and/or act in line with their personal and group expectations – so as to be qualified to be called good citizens of Nigeria or, better still, nationalists. What a beautiful nonsense!

Radio Biafra
Radio Biafra

Similarly surprising is the rate at which the operator of this now all-important Radio Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is being denigrated by the officials of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and their retinue of parasitic sycophants.

Little wonder that while some of these officials now seem be dissipating a lot of energy, time and resources striving to outdo one another in a bid to jam the signals of Radio Biafra, the security operatives are reportedly busy loafing around all nooks and crannies of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones searching for the sponsors of this pirate station.

Furthermore, it smacks of curiosity that these operatives appear to be carrying out this task with more vigour, strength, uncommon commitment and unprecedented diligence than they seem to have so far deployed in the perennial fight against the Boko Haram terrorists that have been wrecking havoc here and there in the Northern region.

Apparently in an effort to shore up what seemed to remain of its dwindling image – which has been adversely dealt with by the seemingly superior strategies and operations of the Boko Haram sect – and in order to create the impression of possessing the technical knowhow to control the country’s airwaves, the government, through the instrumentality of the National Broadcasting Commission, recently announced its success in jamming the signals of Radio Biafra.

According to Dr. Yemi Folashade Esan, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, “right now the signals from Radio Biafra have been jammed successfully by the NBC”.

As pleasant as this remark sounds, there is no gainsaying that only time and events will give credibility to this claim.

Now let us dwell on the crux of the matter about the things believed to be said or done wrongly by Radio Biafra. First of all, apart from the media reports about the station’s pejorative reference to President Muhammadu Buhari as terrorist-in-Chief and sundry other names, which is roundly deplorable, could it be empirically wrong for rational minds in a sane society to think that the station’s metaphoric use of the word “zoo” or “zoological republic” in describing the degrading and appalling state of human existence in Nigerian today is really misplaced? For sure, this should as a matter of fact be the fundamental question of abiding concern to all of us, even as we continue to take a swipe at the general operations and content of the pirate radio station.

As it were, going by the abysmal, unacceptable and, in fact, clearly uncontrollable spate of killings and wanton destruction of property on daily basis by the Boko Haram beasts (existing in the form of human beings) since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, could it not be an understatement to submit that the Radio Biafra’s characterization of Nigeria as a ‘zoo’ is a mild word in the depiction of the near animalistic state of living in the North-East geo-political zone? For goodness sake, how else do we aptly describe a situation whereby human beings are daily slaughtered like animals in Nigeria by the Boko Haram sect? Or, how else do we rationalize a state of human existence with a government ostensibly in place whereby no fewer than 625 innocent and hapless Nigerians got butchered in a day in four villages in Borno state as reported by Vanguard Newspaper of July 14, 2015?

Funny enough, not even in the US nowadays would anybody take the lives of ordinary animals in just a day and in such a large number without the government swiftly unveiling its deadliest fangs of law enforcement in retaliation against the culprit. But here we are watching our government setting 182 Boko Haram suspects free on grounds that they had been duly investigated, discharged and acquitted. It is well indeed!

In fact, no matter the things that we do or say against the Radio Biafra and its operator, Nnamdi Kanu, the point is that Nigeria cannot live in self-delusion forever, more so now that the government of the day appears to be pontificating so much about change – though one hopes that this is far from being a lip-service approach aimed at taking Nigerians for a ride.

Undoubtedly, there is need for change in the style of governance in Nigeria. But then, the change the country needs or desires is not such that is currently being tilted in favour of the Hausa-Fulani and a few of their Northern brethren, in collaboration with their fellow ‘Muslim brothers’ in the South-West. Of course this desired change ought not to encapsulate or envisage the emerging notion (as evidenced so far in President Buhari’s appointment) that the people of Northern Nigeria know it more than their southern counterparts and as such have a duty to take over all the strategic security and other positions in the country, to the exclusion of others co-existing with them in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious entity called Nigeria.

Meanwhile, if there is one known fact that is increasingly endearing the people of South-East and South-South to the so-called illegal Radio Biafra (to the chagrin and discomfort of Buhari’s government), it is best to be situated in the perceived witch-hunt by the present national leadership. Rightly or wrongly, its first rash decision to transfer a whole lot of high risk Boko Haram detainees/prisoners to an unworthy prison facility at Ekwuluobi in the South-Eastern state of Anambra speaks volumes about the validity of the stereotyped mindset of President Buhari’s government vis-a-vis Ndigbo. And this may help to explicate the rationale behind the fortune being made by Radio Biafra in the area of securing the attention of the public.

Though it has always been easy for those who enjoy the privilege of being in the media or having access to the media to put in the public domain fierce polemics against peoples’ projects that are apparently antithetical to the interest they represent or protect. Yet it must be noted that the role of the media, whether print, electronic or online, on this issue of Radio Biafra should go beyond attacking the station. At the very best, there is need for caution, profound reflection and candid analysis on this issue. Like the British Broadcasting corporation (BBC) Hausa service which champions the cause of the Hausa people all over the world, it may not be out of place to say that the Radio Biafra fundamentally exists to serve and promote the cause and interest of the people of Igbo extraction both at home and in Diaspora.

To this end, it does not seem to make sense that Premium Times, an online media, in its July 10, 2015 Editorial, erroneously tried to equate the activities of Radio Biafra with Radio Television Libre des mille (RTLMC) that allegedly aided the massacre of 500,000 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Truth be told, there is hardly any station which caters and propagates solely the cause of a nation that does not err from time to time in terms of providing controversial content to its listeners. As a matter of fact, we may recall that it was reportedly on the BBC Hausa Service interview segment that our current President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, allegedly issued his notorious threat about the possibility of monkey and baboon’s blood oozing out on the streets in the event the 2015 general election failed to meet his personal and group expectations. And here lies one of the challenges associated with the existence of a cause radio station or a global radio station that permanently runs a cause programme for a nationality co-existing with other nationalities within the same geographical entity and under a supreme authority (one government).

What is more, if indeed Radio Biafra is illegal on account of the pronouncement by Dr. Yemi Folashade Esan, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, merely because the station does not have a licence obtained from Nigerian government to be on her airwaves, then it stands to question if the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Deutsche welle and their ilk that freely operate on our airwaves do so because they are issued with Nigerian government’s licences or basically because of their ownership, possession and use of superior technology/technical knowhow.

But be that as it may, it is high time the government left Radio Biafra alone and mind its business of governance, especially as it concerns its efforts in containing the unabated offensive being launched daily by the Boko Haram insurgents. Endlessly chasing shadow in the guise of fighting to jam the signals of Radio Biafra will only continue to attract more attention and listenership for the radio station. This is why it is imperative for President Muhammadu Buhari to start addressing cases of injustice, inequality and inequity (which abound in our polity) against the people of the enclave whose cause and interest the pirate radio station claims to be pursuing. This is one major way of making the vast majority of the people concerned think and act less for and in defence of Radio Biafra.

Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, a Journalist, writes from Abuja

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