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Saturday, 14 November 2015

Nigeria won’t be free until Biafra is free – Nnamdi Kanu

In 2013, Nnamdi Kanu, the de­tained director of Radio Biafra, visited Nigeria. He granted what could pass for his only interview in Nigeria. The interview conducted by Sam Anokam and which was published by Saturday Sun, in 2013, is hereby reproduced.

Tell us your name and what you do

My name is Nnamdi Kanu, I am the director of Radio Biafra which is based in London but now Radio Biafra is in Ni­geria, it is in Biafra land. We have been here broadcasting on FM frequency 88.2 in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Nnewi and Owerri. We have brought Radio Bi­afra back to Biafra land for the very first time in 43 to 44 years. It is very well in operation in the east.

Why the East?

You know it is FM. It is not enough to propagate round and go round the country but we are working. Sometime in Septem­ber, October, this year, we will to be able to bring in sufficient power in terms of transmission to allow us access to all areas within Nigeria.

Did you encounter any form of challenge in operating here?

The people that we got challenges from were some people who are obvi­ously agents of the Nigerian government within the Biafran struggle because there are some Biafrans who are full-time paid agents of Nigeria. It is only from them that we got some rumblings but we were suf­ficiently protected because we are not do­ing anything illegal. It is free speech. We are basically speaking our minds. That is what is happening which incidentally a lot of people in and around the country bought into. It’s not a question of us say­ing something that is new, we are discuss­ing something that every other part of the country would like to be a part of.

How long have you been running the radio station in Nigeria?

We started running Radio Biafra in Ni­geria for the past two and a half weeks, to be precise.

How has the reception been?

It’s been very good but initially, the estimate we had was for a 25 mile radius range for the transmitter and the power of the antenna that we had but what we are recording were 18 miles. What we then need to do is to take it back to our people and then be able to make some improve­ments to it. As I said, we have a bigger transmitter coming in around September, October. We should be able to provide coverage nationally. Wherever you are in Nigeria, you should be able to get Radio Biafra on FM and AM from October of this year.

For now, what is the dura­tion of the broadcast?

It is normally two and three hours. The one we had in Aba, because of the location where we are and the incessant rainfall, it was curtailed to an hour and 49 minutes but we are hoping to bring Radio Biafra to people on a daily basis.

Tell us how you started Ra­dio Biafra in London

We started Radio Biafra in 2009 with the help of the then MASSOB members. They contributed to set up Radio Biafra. When we discovered that the leadership of MASSOB was doing something en­tirely different from what the people ac­tually wanted, we went on air to tell the people about what we felt the struggle was going and the funding for Radio Biafra was stopped at that point in time. It was moribund for about two years. We then re­vived Radio Biafra ourselves a year ago. It came back online again on April 13 last year following the death of our people in the North. We decided to revive the radio station to bring hope, enlightenment and knowledge to our people.

How many of you revived Radio Biafra?

Radio Biafra was revived ostensibly by six people. Within the two years that Radio Biafra was off air, we were going to work Monday to Friday, 9-5 everyday, working and saving money to start Radio Biafra again. We neglected our families. We aban­doned our commitments to our families both in London and here in Nigeria.

How have you been funding and sustaining it?

We’ve been sustained by ourselves. We go to work. We know that media for you people is a full-time job. For us, it should be a full-time job but we cannot have any funding because we don’t want to go out and be pleading with people all the time because of what happened in the past. Anywhere we go for funding, they always remind us where the previous support they rendered us went to. They always use MASSOB and what Uwazuruike is doing as example as reasons not to fund the struggle anymore and we said rather with waiting and pleading with our people we agreed to do it ourselves to show them that we are serious. As long as we are on the path of truth and honesty, they will come round to our way of thinking at some point and we believe that is what they’ve done. And because the FM that we are talking about was funding only by one individual, Chukwudi Oforma who is based in Australia, he decided to bring out the money to fund the FM project that I came here to execute. That tells you that people are now beginning to come out to put some financial muscle behind what we are doing

How is the reception in London?

When Radio Biafra came back on air, there were jubilations not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Because people recognise what Radio Biafra represents. At Radio Biafra, we cannot af­ford to lie. It is not a propaganda machine. We tell you things the way they are. If we are failing, we will tell the people we are failing and these are the reasons we are failing because part of the difficul­ty we’ve had in the past is people misrepresenting the truth. At Radio Biafra, we took an oath and we swore never to misrepresent the truth. Any day we lie or represent what is fact, that day, we will shut down and we will not be able to proceed. That is why we have been able to accomplish more than when we received sponsorship from members of MASSOB.

At some point, the funding meant for Radio Bi­afra was withdrawn by Uwazuruike and we began to enlighten people as to what was going wrong with the movement. And events now have borne us out that we were correct all along and that is why the more people discover how truthful Radio Biafra is, the more they are flocking back to us.

Now tell me what is wrong with MASSOB?

The movement has been flawed because peo­ple have started to follow the path of money. They have forgotten what Biafra realisation is all about. Mind you, we are not actualising but realising Biafra because Biafra already existed. You cannot actualize what is already in existence. The movement derailed because of the cult hero worship. When you are in a freedom fighting movement, the leadership of that movement is not very important, what is important is the ideology that underpins the entire movement. When you then embody, encapsulate the entire thinking of a movement in one person, that person becomes a target either for compromise or for assassination. That is what happens and that is what happened in this case. As you can see, we have now aban­doned the struggle for Biafra, we are talking about chieftaincy titles. We are talking about working with PDP, we are talking about sewing uniform with Mrs. Jonathan peace ambassador and the rest of it but that was not the intention of the struggle. Biafra is puritanical in the sense that it doesn’t like contamination with any other thing and that is why we are suffering today.

And because we took our eyes away from what was important which was the freedom for our people, we started to look at material things like cars, buildings, accolades and wealth. That was how we derailed.

What is the ideology of Biafra?

The ideology of Biafra is the freedom, the emancipation of all the Biafran people which means that all the people bound genetically, cul­turally and by the same value system. In other words, I am talking about those who understand the history of the Biafran people. I am talking about the Idoma people, the Igbo people, the Efiks, Ibibios, Anangs, Ijaw, Itsekiris, the Urho­bos and the Anioma people. All these are Biafran families. If you go to a village or town for instance Oturpko, they have four market days-Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo. And when people say that these people are not Igbo people or that they are not re­lated to Igbo people, it becomes a thing of won­der. How is it possible that people that have Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo as their market days are not related to Igbo people? When you go to Akwa Ibom or Cross River State, what they call God is Abasi, that is what we call God where we come from. The highest fraternity in Igboland where I come from in Abia State is Okonko. Okonko was directly derived from the Ibibio and the Efik cul­tures, the same thing with Ekpe. When we want to dance Ekpe in my place, we go to Ibibio land to buy the kits for the Ekpe which is a masquer­ade dance. So, we are all related. We are the same people genetically, in terms of our complexion, in terms of our attitude. I give all your readers a challenge. I want you to go to any market in Warri for instance. Stand back and take a picture of that market, then, go to any Igbo town or village, take a picture of the market of that village and tell me if you can tell the difference. There is no difference. The dressing is the same. Everything we do is the same. The people we call Bonny today are people from Nkwerre. We are all the same people. But due to the difficulties, the hardship, the pain that we have been subjected to, they think it is now fashionable to jettison where you come from and try to be something that you are not which is why we are suffering till today.

What is the way out?

The way out is total freedom for Biafra because Nigeria will not be free unless Biafra is free. We are not against Nigeria. That is the problem. We must make it abundantly clear that Biafra is not the antithesis of Nigeria. We want Nigeria to be one should they feel to engage in the exercise but what we are saying is that you are keeping us in bondage. To tell me that Imo State allocation is a paltry N3.4b every month, this is the reason our governors could not work before. We have been at the forefront of castigating South eastern gover­nors of not doing enough. It is now that it is begin­ning to occur to us that they don’t even have the money to do anything in the first place. There is no money available. How do we rectify all these problems? I challenge anybody to go to Igbo land and not be able to weep. You will see misery upon misery. We are not marginalised, we are enslaved. We are encased in a plaster of deprivation unheard of ever before. We are asking people to leave La­gos, leave where you are in Europe, in America, in Asia, wherever you may be, travel to the village, if you come back the same person, then you know something is wrong with you because where we come from is decaying. Biafra land is in absolute and unimaginable poverty which nobody can cure unless we have Biafra.

Does Radio Biafra have any link or campaigning for Biafra repub­lic?

Yes, we do. Radio Biafra is the most listened to indigenous broadcast out of sub Saharan Africa. We have every evening nothing less than two mil­lion people tuned in all around the world. We have on average every blessed day nothing less than 100,000 people visit Radio Biafra website so the message we propagate is getting through or else people will not be coming. Our message is reso­nating with the people and we are working with a lot of groups ostensibly Bilie Human Rights Initiatives, Biafra Liberation Council, we are also working with other groups across the Niger Delta areas to make sure we bring about Biafra of justice and equality, not Biafra of domination because a lot of people are afraid that if we have Biafra, there is going to be domination by the Igbo people and our question to them is very simple: before Nigeria, before the whiteman came, did the Igbos conquer anybody? The answer is no. We are larger than the Ibibios, Efiks, Ijaws, did we go to the Ijaws and say you must speak Igbo language or else we kill you? Or you must adopt our cul­ture or else we kill you? The ironic thing is that we ended up absorbing these other cultures to the Igbo way of life. That goes to show how versatile we are. We are not a domineering people. The fact that if you open up your shop to trade and you are blessed and become wealthy means that you are domineering? That is a slightly false perception of what dominance is. It is not dominance, it is peo­ple actually doing well. And you will know even in Igboland today, there is a traditional ruler that has converted to Islam-Eze Dumuna of Mbaitoli. He is now Musa Dimuna, a traditional titled ruler in Igboland! He’s not been killed. He’s not been chased out or bombed because we believe in tol­erance.

What’s your take about groups agitating for Biafra?

We welcome every group agitating for Biafra as long as you are doing it in truth and honesty. If you look at the programme of some elements of movement within Biafra land, you would know that they have derailed from that cardinal prin­cipal. They are not pursuing Biafra in truth and honesty anymore. What they are doing does not represent freedom fighting anymore. That is why we say to people, there are groups you can join. You can join Bilie Human Rights Initiative which took Nigeria to court which a lot of people don’t know about.

A court in Nigeria recognises the word ‘Biafra’ for the very first time without throwing everybody in jail. The case is coming up on April 30 and we are asking everybody to be in court in Owerri to witness this landmark occasion. It’s been going on since last year. A lot of people don’t know this. Again we are saying join Bilie Human Rights Ini­tiatives, listen to Radio Biafra broadcasting both from London and Biafra land, you can also join Biafra Liberation Council. It is a legitimate group. You can join Lower Niger Congress. These are groups that are legitimate. Any other group you join is involved in criminality and in violence, detrimental to what we are pursuing because you have people with MASSOB for instance who are going about arresting people and handing over to Nigerian police. People agitating for Biafra are being arrested and being handed over to the Ni­gerian police and these are people claiming to be fighting for the struggle. You have to be consis­tent. There is no relationship between fighting for the freedom of your people and accumulation of wealth. That is what we are against.

In other words, your relationship with MASSSOB is sour?

Our relationship with genuine people within MASSOB pursuing Biafra in truth and hones­ty is sound. What we abhor is the leadership of MASSOB because the leadership of MASSOB is corrupt. Intrinsically corrupt. They were cam­paigning for PDP during the last elections, ev­erybody knows that. They are running all over the place looking for chieftaincy titles. We asked them: have you seen anywhere in the history of modern freedom fighters where you jettison freedom fighting and start looking for chieftain­cy titles? You abandon freedom fighting to start pricing the cost of cement and sand to go and build a house. You wait until you get what you are looking for. At that point, the people will honour you. Nelson Mandela doesn’t live in a mansion. Mahatma Ghandi never lived in a mansion. Mar­tin Luther King Junior never lived in a mansion. Che Guevara never lived in a mansion. What are you doing with landed properties? What are you doing with wealth if you are a freedom fighter? We work ourselves to put our money in Biafra. We don’t expect anything from Biafra. We don’t have anything to with money. That is the cardinal rule in Radio Biafra. You can never be rich. You don’t need money for anything at all as long as you can feed and cloth and transport yourself, that is enough. The glory of your people being free is your gain. Nothing more, nothing less. If you are lucky the people might give you a three bedroom bungalow to live when you retire but we have role models in the likes of Mandela among others who never amassed any personal wealth, these are genuine freedom fighters and this is what Radio Biafra is modelled on.

The Igbos have been victims of Boko Haram and recently a bus was bombed in Kano with the Igbo people as victims as usual, what is your take on it?

My brother was there, Ikechukwu from Ndag­wam from Etiti Nabua in Isiama Afara Ukwu, Ibeku. I cannot marry from that kindred. My brother died in the explosion. What is happen­ing in Nigeria is affecting some of us. I have his picture here on my phone lying in his casket so that people will understand the difficulties we are going through within this country. What Boko Haram is doing to us is not only abominable, it is absolutely unacceptable to us. Ask yourself, why would we start Radio Biafra? Simple, nobody was talking. Have you heard any Igbo governor talk about the bombings in the North or condemn it? The answer is no. Have you heard Ohanaeze, our own fathers that we look up to and respect, say anything about the bombings? The answer is No.

Have you heard anybody else come out to say what Boko Haram is doing is bad and must be matched? The answer is no.

Ask yourself why they are killing Igbo people? They are kill­ing Igbo people because of a man that says he is not Igbo. They are killing Igbo people because of Goodluck Jonathan. We cannot allow this to continue. If people are exchanging the lives of our people for money, for jeep for what they can get, their days are numbered.

How do you think Biafra would be realised?

Biafra will be realised both legally, politically, socially and oth­erwise. But one thing is for certain, Biafra is coming. Nobody can stop it. No amount of intimidation, arrest, torture, deprivation will stop Biafra from coming. It is already ordained. We are not talking about the Biafra that these new age churches preach ask­ing us to leave everything to God. We are not leaving everything to God, we are asking God to give us the power to be able to do things. When we start, you should tell your readers that the world will not even be able to contain us. What Boko Haram is doing will appear like a tea party when we start our own. The reason being that, we have not done anything in this country to deserve the treatment that we are getting. We have done nothing wrong to people. They say don’t break away and be Biafra, we agree to remain in one Nigeria, what are we getting today? Punishment. Death. Disaster upon disaster. You are living in a country you call your own and you are dying every blessed day. Is it a country? If they are killing us in these numbers because somebody who answers an Igbo name is in Aso Rock what do you think will happen when an Igbo man is there? They will slaughter all of us. The first time that this pogrom happened on this scale was when an Igboman was the head of state. They killed Aguiyi Ironsi and from that they massacred everybody. Isn’t that enough to tell the Igbo people that you are not wanted in this country?

Now you tell me as a journalist, when the Yorubas’ want to hold meetings, they come to Yoruba land. They go to Ibadan or Awolowo’s house and have their meeting. When the northerners, the Hausa Fulani people want to meet, they go to Kaduna, Zaria, Sokoto and meet. Do you know that when Ibos want to meet, we go to Atlanta, Texas, we meet in Lagos, we don’t meet in Enugu. Even the Ohanaeze that we are hoping and praying should be constituted in a way to reflect the wishes and aspirations of our people is now dancing to the tune to whoever pays them highest.

If one governor in the South East comes out and say I will de­velop my state and make it better, they will impeach him and put somebody else in there and we are very docile and doing nothing. Let’s make this very clear, if we don’t fight for Biafra to come, many more Boko Haram deaths will happen. And the slaughter will intensify and if it gets to the point they know we’ve been cowed into a corner, they will come in forcibly to islamise us. It is now happening in Imo State. The entrance to the government house has an Islamic symbol there. I challenge anybody to go and have a look. It is happening. A traditional ruler is now a muslim in Imo state. They are building their Islamic centres. I am not against any religion. Islam if practiced very well is a wonderful religion, I have nothing against it but you can see the creeping Islamization we are experiencing and that can’t continue.

What is your advice for the Igbo?

It is for everybody to listen to Radio Biafra. Everybody should cultivate and develop the habit of masking sure they have the Biafran consciousness in them, in truth and honesty. We don’t want the Biafra of the old of deception deceit and lies. Biafra rep­resents light. We have no mixture with darkness. Anytime you stand upon the name Biafra to lie and to cheat, you are finished. You cannot accomplish anything. What are we doing in Nigeria? What have you gained in Nigeria? Do you know that oil is in Imo State before any other place? Do you know that Shell was in Owerri before any other place in this country? Is it fair that we from Biafra cannot make use of Calaba or Port Harcourt sea ports? Why must I be in Ohaozara and import a car through La­gos, does that make any economic sense to anybody? In a country that claims it is developing? In a country where crude oil comes from the ground, yet, you cant produce electricity and you are telling me you are human beings? I don’t want to belong to that country, God forbid!

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