OF RADIO BIAFRA AND THE URGENCY OF NOW
It is no more a hidden secret that since the last election that brought in President Muhammadu Buhari to power, discordant tunes have become even louder in some parts of the country. It appears that for every national election that comes and goes; one section of the country to another feels it had unjustly been schemed out of the equation and as such quickly take up arms against the Nigerian state. The Nigerian state today, and more than ever before, reeks of nothing but anger by one ethnic group against the other. This anger stems from a feeling of alienation that readily evokes emotion rather than reason. It is why the discordant tunes have shifted from the delta to the other side of the Niger, forcing its resentful narrative on the naïve who have little or no idea of the past.
Not too long ago, the public was awash with the news of a terrestrial radio station with an FM bandwidth airing in most parts of the South-South and South Eastern states. Popularly called Radio Biafra and allegedly run by a foreign-based Nnamdi Kanu who goes by the nom de plume, Director. This station began as an internet radio station and had few followers until it somehow found its way on terrestrial radio with a tune-in frequency. Since the fallout of the last general election, the station has been known to spew inciting statements, calling for violence against certain ethnic groups in the country and canvassing for secession from the Nigerian state. One would have thought with the monster the Boko Haram sect has become today and the headache militant agitations in the delta region gave us few years back, some useful lessons would have been learnt by the Nigerians state on this particular issue by abruptly putting an end to the brains behind Radio Biafra, yet we seem quite passive about it.
The question on the minds of many is why now? There is no answer to this other than the fact that some elements feel or believe the last election was a gang up by some regions against the other and as such must openly express their grievances even if it meant inciting others to violence. When Mr Kanu portrays the Nigerian state as a “Zoo” and the people living in it as “animals” or gives a sense of belonging to a people he calls “Biafrans”, charging them to unequivocally reject the 2015 election, we surely need not take such diatribe with kid gloves. At a time when we are still battling the monster called Boko Haram and having just in the last four years put an end to militant agitations in the delta region, all we need now is the peace rather than another monster rearing its ugly head in the East.
We must not take it lightly that a radio station operating illegally in Nigeria has first broken the rules of engagement. Knowing full well that quite a number of the radio's growing followers which include traders, village dwellers, school children, commercial bus drivers etc., are not in tune with the realities of the past and present, it is likely we may have much trouble to contend with sooner if nothing is done now. It is not clear what Mr Kanu wants and how he intends to go about his secessionist aspirations but hate speeches, inciting violence and calling for secession will never do much to bring his dreams to reality. While it is understandable that the last election had bred a level of regional dissatisfaction, it however, shouldn't be a reason for using egregious narratives to fight the Nigerian state.
Mr Kanu appears as one who doesn't understand the implication of his actions. Merely assessing him, one can assume he was not born before and during the Biafra war and may be excused for being credulous. When you compare the number of those who lost their lives during the war on both sides, add it up with the number of Hutus and Tutsis who died during the Rwandan genocide and envision the lives that would be lost if Nigeria goes to war against its own people today, one can easily admit Mr Kanu is only playing to the gallery.
Achieving an aspiration through violence has never taken anyone to Eldorado; rather it inflicts life-long wounds on those who promote it. Since the end of the Nigeria civil war, this country is yet to get out of the shock and pain it inflicted on its own children. It was a war that shouldn't have occurred and will for many years come to haunt us a nation. Sadly, a war that almost tore us apart as a nation is what Mr Kanu wishes to rekindle. The war declared by Boko Haram in the North West is enough evidence that war only comes to consume our men, women and children. While properties may be rebuilt, we can never do same for the needless lives lost in a war.
The authorities must begin to act fast and take a firm stand on Radio Biafra and all its promoters. The station is a ticking time bomb that may explode if we do not nip it in the bud. Now is the time to act before we have yet another destabilising monster on our hands.
Written by Raheem Oluwafunminiyi.