Monday, 29 June 2015 10:46

On the recent unease and brouhaha about Radio Biafra.

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Radio Biafra logoThe past week has been awash with news about the ‘dangers’ posed by an anonymous Radio station broadcasting nationally from the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria (regions of the defunct Republic of Biafra). The reach and popularity of the broadcasts has raised a lot of concern within the Nigerian security circles and in the polity as a whole.

Several National publications have raised the hue and cry to relevant authorities to go against those behind the broadcasts. Yomi Kazeem a columnist of the popular online publication likened the broadcasts to ‘’ seemingly ‘harmless’ radio messages of hate and secession propaganda’’ akin to the pro-Hutu jingoisms that set the stage for the Rwandan genocide. While the response of most Nigerians of the South Eastern stock in the social media has overwhelmingly been that of support for the broadcasts which they see as enlightening and in defence of their peoples against increasing attacks, hatred and hostility around Nigeria spewed daily by non-Eastern Nigerian media.

The popular ‘phantom’ Radio Biafra which is said to be transmitting from an unknown location on 88.0 FM according to reports packs all the ferocious political punches expected of a ‘freedom Radio’ and sometimes goes to extreme at pitching Western and Northern Nigerians against their fellow Eastern Nigerian compatriots. These broadcasts expose the still-festering wounds of the Nigerian Civil war (Biafran war) and raises pertinent questions of how genuine the post- civil war reconciliation program of Nigeria has been.

For a war that claimed the lives of over two million people on the both sides of the fray, the attitude of the Governments of Nigeria at addressing the root causes of the conflict and proffering lasting solution for long term peaceful co-existence of its inherently resourceful, peaceful and beautiful ethnic nationalities has been unsatisfactorily absurd. Nigerians must all pretend the war never happened!  A total obliteration of the Biafran saga from the annals of Nigerian history has been the myopic prescription for post war reconciliation and long term cure of Nigeria’s most nagging malady –the illness of deep rooted mutual hatred.

Well that prescription has managed to stem (at least up to the present time) the anger and mistrust of the recent generation of the South Eastern Nigerians (Biafran) whose forbearers bore the greatest brunt of the conflict. Radio Biafra is now unfortunately giving voice to the suppressed voices that could not question many pre- and post Nigerian civil war injustices against the South Eastern Nigerian and those voices are resonating into a chorus which if not addressed timously, may spell doom for Nigeria.

On Friday the 19th of June, Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), through its Director of Public Affairs responding to the growing worries about the operations of the station, urged the public to ignore its transmissions. Alhaji Awwalu Salihu in his statement said that ‘the commission had become aware of a pirate radio station transmitting seditious and divisive content contrary to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and law’. He further urged the public to ignore the inflammatory content of the broadcasts and continue to work toward a strong, united and prosperous nation and finally assured the public that they were working in conjunction with security forces to track the source of the broadcast. The Governor of Imo State of Nigeria Rochas Okorocha while speaking to the American based media house -Sahara Reporters on an interview about the operations of the Radio Biafra, dismissed it as not having the backing of any South Eastern Leaders. He however forgot that such movements care less of backings from ‘leaders’, preferring rather the endorsement of the seemingly marginalized, angry, restless and disenfranchised common people. Both Nigerian officials (the Director and the Governor) continue to make the same jaundiced judgments (like those made by post war Nigerian) of the implosion that a cloaked humongous mass dissatisfaction like we see amongst the angry Eastern Nigerian youth can cause to the continued unity of Nigeria.

Most of Nigeria’s young people want a prosperous country devoid of ethnic rancour and retrogression. They display it daily in how they have been collaborating in driving the entity’s growth at many sectors. Nigeria owes it to its young to completely eliminate practices that create extremism and disbelief in the Nigerian Project. Structural imbalances, sectional marginalisation, tribalism, absence of fairness and equity, politicization of census, systematic regional underdevelopment, loss of sense of citizenship in all citizens are all fodder to the canons of Radio Biafra and all dissident outfits in the country. A sincere redress of the flaws in our constitutional foundations will go a long way stemming the growing jingles of jingoism and ethnic chauvinism plaguing Nigeria.

The Government of Nigeria should declassify records of the dark days of its history and should quit enshrouding the Nigerian Civil war/Biafran war in a mystery. Respectful commemoration of the war and memorial of the war dead on both sides should be encouraged and not suppressed. The youth from the different parts of Nigeria’s political divides should be made to participate in such commemorations and made to appreciate the pains, anger and complaints of their compatriots. Such activities would serve as a useful valve to release the pent up pressures in the citizenry, build solidarity and trust amongst Nigeria’s young and encourage lasting reconciliation.

Biafra happened and for many was a sad reality that. The direct and indirect victims of Africa’s most gruesome conflict grapple daily to come to terms with why such genocidal war was weged. It is a very important chapter of many’s history and stands as an ensign of constant reminder of the spectre that war poses as an alternative to national disagreements. It was not some gruesome grand narrative and cannot just be wished away. It is a part of our history and we must deal with it or allow organisations with ‘other’ agenda like Radio Biafra to deal with it the way we may not like. 

Read 2373 times Last modified on Monday, 29 June 2015 18:41
Sunny-Unachukwu John

Sunny-Unachukwu John is an avid reader and writer. A leader in the Nigerian community in South Africa and a seasoned community organiser. He is an advocate for immigrants assimilation in South Africa  and co-steers  an advocacy group- Immigrants Responsibility and Rights Projects (IRRP). He is passionate about Law, Politics, Social Justice and Pax Africana. He also loves literature, film and soccer.