The Nigerian media has become willing tools in Nnamdi Kanu's propaganda mischief. Time to cut the crap.
In the blurry, yet captivating clip, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Kanu, emerges draped in his mostly immaculate trademark half Igbo, half Jewish attire and proceeds to inspect a guard of honour mounted by a militia.
Members of this militia are spotting all black attire and red berets. They look brainwashed, scruffy and indoctrinated probably because they are brainwashed, scruffy and indoctrinated.
Kanu steps forward like the god he thinks he is, an anthem from a makeshift band hums in the background, there are salutes from the militiamen who announce that they are members of the Biafra Security Service (BSS)….
And there was a migraine and grimace from me as I watched kilometers away; no thanks to the magic that is the smartphone.
Those footages made their way to almost every online news platform this week. Social media users lapped it all up as well and by the evening of Tuesday, August 15, 2017, all of us had turned Nnamdi Kanu into a King of some phantom country.
We are all complicit in this monster we’ve created.
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When Justice Binta Nyako of a federal high court in Abuja granted Kanu bail on April 25, 2017, the eccentric demagogue was told not to attend any rallies.
Kanu was warned not to be caught in a crowd of more than 10 persons. He was asked to grant no interviews.
He’s flouted all of his bail conditions one after the other with reckless abandon.
By June 28, 2017, Kanu had become the royalty who acknowledges cheers, chants and adulation from hundreds of fawning 'Biafrans'; while perched on the roof of his father’s compound in Umuahia, Abia State.
These days, hundreds of Biafrans will give everything to kiss Kanu’s feet and massage his bum.
How did we get here?
The media helped.
We’ve lent credence to Kanu’s incendiary rhetoric and propaganda by sharing his images to millions of impressionable young minds across the country.
Those of us in the fourth estate of the realm; who should be gate-keepers of our nascent democracy, have aided Kanu’s gospel of a Utopian Biafra by granting him plenty of airtime and plenty of space on our blogs, news and social media platforms.
The media has been willing tools as Kanu has propagated hate speeches from the Southeast to the far reaches of this nation.
We are normalising danger each time we post images and videos of people lying on their backs to worship Kanu or each time we air images of a fawning crowd cheering Kanu on as he pumps fist in the air.
An avowed attention seeker who knows how the media works--having been a practitioner himself—Kanu is manipulating the media into achieving his aims. He knows that since he’s become the news thanks to the media, he can always count on the same media to spread his gospel of hate.
The media was culpable in the creation of Hitler, Trump and the Rwandan genocide. The Nigerian media continues to lend itself to the incendiary rhetoric, divisive sermons and tripe of Fani-Kayode and Ayo Fayose for instance.
The Nigerian media didn’t create Kanu. But the Nigerian media has made Kanu into the superstar that he thinks he is.
We could have censored those images of Kanu inspecting a guard of honour because we do know that you can’t keep another army within a sovereign nation. It points to an insurrection.
We could have written stinging editorials calling out Kanu for the treasonable felony that those images were.
We could have given Kanu’s show of shame short shrift—a blackout.
Instead, we let him gloat on our respective sites.
We are normalising danger.
If he really has bedraggled soldiers across the Southeastern States or across the Niger Delta, who says he can’t activate those cells to devastating effect for our country and families someday?
Aren’t we creating another batch of terrorists with Kanu’s BSS?
The nation’s security architecture has to be hard at work as well in order to neutralise whatever Kanu and his ilk have been cooking, make no mistake, but the media—you and I—have to stop glamourising Nnamdi Kanu for the clicks and page views--especially because the man is basking in the attention.
It’s a big role and one we have to step up to play.